Dec. 17, 2012
Sneak Preview of Big Break Greenbrier Finale
Former Husky golfer James Lepp has accomplished a lot since graduating from the University of Washington. After earning his degree from UW, the 2005 NCAA individual champion spent some time playing professionally before turning his focus to his golf apparel company Kikkor Golf. While business has been strong for Lepp, he still had the itch to test his game against the best. When the Golf Channel invited him to audition for the Big Break Greenbrier back in April, Lepp jumped at the opportunity. He spent two weeks filming the reality-based show in West Virginia this past June and now, six months later, the show is about to air its finale this Tuesday.
Spoiler alert...James made it to the final two and will face off in the finale against Mark Silvers. The show will air on the Golf Channel on Tuesday, at 6:00 p.m. PT and re-air at 9:00 p.m. PT. The show will also repeat at various times throughout the upcoming days. If you've missed the show, you can catch up online: Big Break Official Website.
Throughout the entire show, Lepp has proudly represented the University of Washington. On several episodes you can catch him decked out entirely in Husky gear and you can even see the Husky `W' rolling on his monogramed ball. Lepp's personality and style of play has endeared him to fans of the Golf Channel as he has been leading the "Most Popular" fan-voting contest throughout the show.
If Lepp can emerge triumphant after Tuesday's final show, he will win $50,000, a $10,000 Adams Golf sponsorship and an exemption into the PGA Tour's 2013 Greenbrier Classic. He has already won $10,000 worth of cash and prizes in competitions throughout the show.
Lepp was kind enough to spend some time chatting with GoHuskies.com about his experience on the Big Break. Here is what he had to say about the show and his life-changing experience:
GoHuskies.com: Being on TV now, do you think more people seem to know you?
JamesLepp: "I think people know more about me, that's for sure, even some of my closer friends. There is definitely a lot of people who have made friend requests and there is still a lot of people I don't know."
GoHuskies.com: How has this changed your life?
JamesLepp: "It's definitely changed it, nothing that is Gangnam Style, Psy-crazy or something like that, but sure, it's changed a little bit. There has been more action on Twitter, there has been more action pretty much everywhere but definitely nothing that has blown the roof off."
GoHuskies.com: Has it affected business for Kikkor Golf?
JamesLepp: "Yes. It has definitely improved sales and web site hits and traffic there, so I can't complain."
GoHuskies.com: How did the process of getting involved with The Big Break work
JamesLepp: "I have a friend that produces on the show and he said, `Man, you've got to audition, etc.' But I was like, I don't want to because at that time I really wasn't playing that much golf. Then this past year he texted me and asked if I was ready to come and audition. I was more like, `Sure, maybe I should do this.' So, I sent in an application, did my audition in Arizona - that was April-May - and then sometime in late May they told me I made the show."
GoHuskies.com: It took two weeks to film the show but it feels like you formed some pretty good friendships through the process.
JamesLepp: "Oh for sure, you're hanging around these guys non-stop and competing in these challenges against them. There were a lot of cool guys, a lot of good guys on this particular season, so everybody became really good friends."
GoHuskies.com: What kind of things did you do at nights when you're done competing?
JamesLepp: "There was no real down time other than when you sleep. You're pretty much going all day. You wake up at 5:00, have breakfast at 5:30 and then go down to the course and get warmed up. Then you do challenges throughout the day and then hopefully by 5:00 you're done. You get back to the house and then you either eat right away or go to your evening interview which takes an hour and a half. You get make up done too, so that whole process of the interview take up 2 ½ hours. Then you're eating at some point in there. And then you do confessional where you're talking to the camera one-on-one spots where you kind of talk about whatever you want. Five o'clock adds up pretty quick and comes pretty quickly. There were a couple of times when we were able to do a little bit of stuff whether it was watch the NBA Playoff or NHL Playoffs. We played some mini-golf at the house we were staying at, but other than that, there really wasn't that much time to do whatever we wanted to do."
GoHuskies.com: How hard has it been to keep it a secret that you made it to the final two and now, not give up the final results of the show?
JamesLepp: "It honestly wasn't that difficult because I didn't want to tell anybody. A lot of people would ask and try to throw little trick questions or comments and try to get information out of me, so you get pretty used to being very careful about what you say."
GoHuskies.com: Has your family tried to sneak out the final results from you?
JamesLepp: "They have maybe tried to sneak it out of me, but they don't know. Funny, I've had people on congratulate me on my third place finish before the last episode. He had some theory and saw some footage on The Golf Channel that `clearly' had me out next week. I think it's funny when people are so sure, but clearly they aren't so sure."
GoHuskies.com: Are you excited for it to come to an end next week and be able to tell friends all about your experience?
JamesLepp: "As episodes have unfolded, there really is nothing to tell that hasn't been shown. There really has been no reason to hold back anything except the final results. It's not like there is going to be a big exhale and a bunch of information is going to come out. Everything comes out each episodes, so it should be alright."
GoHuskies.com: How hard was it to leave for two weeks and put the business on the side?
JamesLepp: "It was alright. Two weeks happens pretty quickly. I did have a little bit of access to email so I was able to do some important stuff, but really didn't have much access. Everything here (Abbottsford, B.C.) was going smoothly, so there wasn't too much to worry about."
GoHuskies.com: You have been getting together in Abbotsford to watch each episode with family and friends. What has been the reaction from them each episode?
JamesLepp: "It's been pretty cool. Because nobody really knows what has happened with every putt that I make or a good shot I make, they're cheering like it is happening live. It's pretty fun to be part of."
GoHuskies.com: What has been the public's reaction to your saucer pass?
JamesLepp: "The fact that it has worked so well for me so far, it has obviously helped a lot in the reaction it has received. You obviously can't question it because it has worked so well on the show. I'm glad that it did work. If I didn't pull off the shot, people really wouldn't be talking about it. They would just be talking about how bad of a chipper I am, because I use a crazy technique that doesn't even work. But, the truth of the matter is that it does work and it's pretty awesome that it did work on the show. There has been lots of interest in the saucer pass, especially with the Canadians that watch the golf channel. Some of them already knew about it, but a lot of them are being introduced to it for the first time and they're trying it. I think we'll see a lot of people in Canada and probably North America trying the saucer pass at their own clubs."
GoHuskies.com: Have any of your fellow competitors try to get some tips on how to do the saucer pass?
JamesLepp: "Some of them are half decent at it right of the gate. I don't think any of them are trying it too seriously. Most of them were decent chippers, so they probably wouldn't have to resort to something like that. But there are a lot of golfers out there that the simplest of chips are not that easy. For me, making a few good saucer passes is a quick remedy for that."
GoHuskies.com: Were you friends or acquaintances with any of your competitors prior to the Big Break?
JamesLepp: "I knew Chan, but that's it. He's more of an acquaintance, but I think we were the same year in college."
GoHuskies.com: What's your thought behind the gear you wear on the show?
JamesLepp: "Well I wanted to represent myself and what interests me the most that I could. I wore anything from Kikkor hats to NHL hats, Husky gear. Those are all a part of my life and that's who I am. Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to wear some of the Kikkor hats and we had to wear Golf Channel hats, which is fine to represent the golf channel. But it would have been nice to wear more Kikkor hats or Washington hats. But I did have one that I wore four times or so."
GoHuskies.com: Did you bring a lot of your Kicker gear with you and help out your fellow competitors with some gear?
JamesLepp: "Afterwards I sent them all some Kikkor swag. I got along with everyone pretty well, even Chan who people tended to poke fun at, me included."
GoHuskies.com: On the website's fan favorite poll, you have been leading the Most Popular contestant poll regularly. Why do you think it is about you that has allowed you to do well in the public's eye?
JamesLepp: "To be quite honest, I think that it helped that I had a little bit of a following before and that I had a business. I kind of had the upper hand from the get go, because it's all a Twitter vote, which I actually didn't even agree with because it was so dependent on people being on Twitter. You couldn't even vote if you didn't have a Twitter account. So that helped. And the fact that I made it to the finals helped because I'm on each and every episode. I get along with a lot of people, so I think a lot of those things helped contribute to me leading that poll.
GoHuskies.com: Can you size up Mark Silvers, your competitor in the finals?
JamesLepp: "Mark is just super solid in every facet of his game. He's really good, you can see through the first ten episodes that he was never in an elimination challenge. Other than when we were all forced to be in an elimination challenge. There's really not one area of his game that's not good. So he flew under the radar a little bit for the first eight, nine episodes because he was playing so well and didn't get much airtime, which is probably the best way to do it. He's a great golfer and his record prior to his big break and after is very good."
GoHuskies.com: After the final airs, will you have any duties with the Golf Channel?
JamesLepp: "I know contractually we are obligated to do some things they ask us to for the next year. Maybe some Big Break promo visits, helping out with things like that. I'm going to try to do some Kikkor/Big Break thing here, up in Canada. So we're putting that together so it should be a pretty fun tour."