James Lepp preps for big party at Big Break finale
Abbotsford golfer relieved he can finally reveal the big secret on Tuesday night
James Lepp has lost count how many times during the past few weeks he’s wanted to borrow that line from Tom Cruise’s character Maverick in the movie Top Gun.
You know the one: “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”
Ever since the Golf Channel’s Big Break Greenbrier series began airing in early October, Lepp has been peppered with questions about the final outcome.
And now that the 28-year-old Abbotsford native is in Tuesday night’s final — which airs at 6 p.m. PST — he has been subjected to even more cross-examination.
“Each and every week there’s probably five or 10 times that someone will try to get some information out of me,” Lepp says. “I love the fact that people knew I wasn’t going to tell them, but they still try to throw little curveballs at me with sneaky questions.
“But you get programmed so well that reacting to those tricky question becomes a little bit of a game and it’s kind of fun, actually.”
The Big Break Greenbrier series was filmed late this past spring in West Virginia, but Lepp says keeping a secret for the past six months hasn’t been difficult.
“No, it hasn’t been hard because I didn’t want to tell anybody. When you don’t want to tell anybody you are usually pretty careful about what you say and make sure you don’t spill any beans.”
His family learned quickly not to ask questions.
“He hasn’t told us, either,” Lepp’s father, Dan, says with a laugh. “Before the show began airing we asked him once, ‘so how did it go?’ It wasn’t like, ‘did you win?’ And the response we got was ‘the only thing I can tell you is that I do not get booted off on the first show.’ That was his only response.”
Lepp, his family and a growing number of friends have been gathering every Tuesday night at the Abbotsford Cactus Club to watch each week’s episode. He’s expecting a full house for Tuesday’s finale.
“Last Tuesday there were 50 or 60 people,” he says. “For the finale we pretty much have the whole restaurant side which is 120 people, so if more people show up they can watch in the lounge or even outside on the patio.”
Whatever happens, it figures to be a pretty good party. Lepp has enjoyed all the positive reaction since the show went to air. Much of it has been over his saucer pass chip shot that he used to ace a challenge in the episode that aired Dec. 4.
“Knowing that I got into the final way back in June I figured there would be quite a bit of reaction and interest when you are on that many episodes,” he says. “And I knew what happened with the saucer pass so all these things made me think that there definitely would be some reaction. I don’t think it has really caught me off guard. I figured that it’s probably going to turn some heads when you see a guy Happy Gilmore it while playing tick-tack-toe.
“I am not trying to go out of the way and over-publicize it. I have just been reacting to what is happening out there. It has obviously been a lot of fun. It’s fun to get everybody out to watch it, fun that we can watch all the way to the end here so it has turned out really well.”
And all that exposure certainly hasn’t hurt business at Kikkor Golf, Lepp’s golf shoe company.
There will be lots on the line in Tuesday’s final when Lepp, a University of Washington graduate, meets Mark Silvers of Savannah, Ga.
The winner will receive a prize package worth about $80,000, including $50,000 cash, an Adams Golf equipment deal and a $10,000 gift certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods. The winner also receives an exemption into the PGA Tour’s 2013 Greenbrier Classic, which goes July 4-7 of next year on the course where the Big Break was taped. Lepp has already won two $5,000 bonuses for winning specific challenges.
With an NCAA championship and two Canadian Tour wins, Lepp has a deeper resume than his opponent. But Silvers is an accomplished player. He has won more than 20 mini-tour events since turning pro after graduating from the University of South Carolina in 2009 and qualified to play in the 2010 U.S. Open.
“I really didn’t know anything about him coming in, I didn’t know his track record.” Lepp says of Silvers. “But through the practice rounds and early challenges it became very evident that he was a very strong player. Like all of the other guys on the show, he’s become a good friend.”
Lepp says no matter what happens, he will look back on his Big Break experience as a good one.
“It’s been a fun ride and it has to inevitably come to an end at some point,” he says. “No matter what happens on Tuesday it is going to be over. It has been cool while it lasted.”
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