The Big Break Greenbrier odyssey is now officially history and no doubt many well-deserved congratulations are pouring in for a worthy champion.
Mark earned the trophy and the exemption. He won the cash and other prizes. But looking back on that gripping finale it’s hard to find a loser anywhere in the equation.
When the twelve Big Breakers arrived in White Sulphur Springs two things were evident: we had a dozen solid players on our hands, and of them Mark Silvers was the unofficial titleholder of Most Likely to be a Tour Pro. He walked the walk, talked the talk and in the end he shot the shots. The only player to never fall into an elimination challenge (as long as there was another option available), Mark’s was about as much of a wire-to-wire victory as the Big Break can offer.
Except for that 3 down with 5 to play stuff, anyway.
When James reached the final match, there was a part of me that saw this as fate. My mind went back to David Byrne of Big Break Indian Wells. In the first episode of that series, David was the one who opened the safe; lo and behold he would go on to win its contents.
Big Break Greenbrier viewers have no doubt seen, several times over, the “Shot Heard Round the Resort”. With the first shot of the entire series James shattered the glass and it looked like it could have been a harbinger. During the finale you could feel the anticipation all over the Old White TPC as James striped iron after pin-seeking iron. The wrap party was within our reach. Or so we thought.
When Mark pitched it to inches on 14, the crew raised a collective eyebrow. But he was just delaying the inevitable. Then came the pars at 15, and the writing was on the wall − only this time in pen.
When James hit his approach in the water on 16 things suddenly seemed a little more up in the air. Mark’s fight was valiant, but still there’s no way he knocks in the eagle putt. Right?? By the time he pulled the ball out of the cup the ten player-spectators in Safe City were practically sprinting toward the 18th hole. All square on the last tee and for the first time all day it was Mark’s to lose.
I guess he doesn’t believe in harbingers.
Despite coming up just one hole short, James left The Greenbrier a winner. He came to West Virginia from Western Canada to rekindle the fire for golf that once saw him on the fast track to PGA TOUR stardom. Safe to say that knocking down flagsticks under tightrope pressure has a way of defibrillating one’s golf career.
I’m pretty sure I can speak for the entire cast and crew when I say I look forward to seeing the new and improved James Lepp – and the saucer pass – getting back to the business of playing golf somewhere down the road.
Golf will definitely be Mark’s business in 2013. In addition to his Big Break spoils, Mark will have conditional status on the Web.com Tour. That’s no small achievement for a man who’s also overcome adversity and grown as a person and as a player.
Mark’s father was his first and toughest golf coach and critic. They argued over how Mark should approach his golf career. Mark’s father passed away just weeks before the Greenbrier series began taping. He certainly would’ve approved of the last 5 holes.
James is a winner because he came looking for inspiration, and found it. Mark is a winner—well, because he won, of course. And we all win, because we got to witness one of the greatest matches in the history of the Big Break series.
One final note... There were countless other winners on the Big Break Greenbrier series. I’m speaking of the small army of dedicated professionals who make up the Big Break crew. They spent weeks away from home and worked incredibly long hours to bring you the sights and sounds of Greenbrier. Back home in Orlando, another herd of people worked tirelessly to edit and promote the final product and ultimately deliver the series to your home.
On behalf of all of them, thanks for watching.