I’ll admit it: I’m a fan of “The Big Break.” I’ve watched the Golf Channel‘s pseudo-reality show almost since the start. To me, the original concept of taking golfers who had perhaps found some success on the mini-tours and were looking for a step up is very interesting.
At the start, the show offered only exemptions onto the Canadian Tour (with all tournaments aired by Golf Channel, of course) as the grand prize, but as the show has become a huge hit for the network, production value and prizes, both cash and exemptions, have gotten better. Call it a guilty pleasure.
The biggest criticisms of the show are the golf skills on display, and the hokey “challenge” nature of each episode. Obviously, the way to find the best golfer is to play tic-tac-toe with pitch shots, right? Well, that criticism aside, this week’s Greenbrier Classic actually features several alumni of the show, and so far they are enjoying some success.
First, probably the most well-known Big Break alum on the PGA Tour is “Two Gloves” Tommy Gainey, who turned pro back in 1997. He actually appeared on two seasons of Big Break, winning the 2007 “Reunion” series. That same year, he earned his PGA Tour card through Q-school. Since then, he’s found some consistency on the big stage, notching a win in last year’s McGladrey Classic. Gainey, tied for eighth after the second round at Greenbrier, is well in the hunt for another win.
Then, of course, there’s current Greenbrier leader Matt Every, who appeared on Big Break’s eighth season. He was a Nationwide Tour grinder for several years, but had a breakout season in 2012, coming in with six top-ten finishes. This year, he’s missed ten cuts already, but has shown flashes of last year’s success, notably tying for fourth back at Colonial. He rocketed to the 36-hole lead with a career-best 62 on Friday, so I’m not ready to crown him just yet, but that’s the type of performance that can make a weekend.
In the lesser-known division, there’s Big Break Ireland alum Julien Trudeau. Trudeau finished second on his season of Big Break, but is working full-time as Graham DeLaet‘s caddie. DeLaet is enjoying his best season on Tour, currently 23rd in the FedEx Cup standings and playing some great golf in the hunt for his first victory.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my main reason behind this article. Last year, Big Break held their season at The Greenbrier, with an exemption to this year’s tournament on the line. Mark Silvers, a 26-year-old University Of South Carolina graduate, took the title, but missed the cut with back-to-back 71’s. He’s also failed to make a cut in five shots on the Web.Com Tour in 2013. Just goes to show you, golf is a fickle game. You can’t win ’em all.
My pick of this group for the weekend? Keep an eye on Gainey. He’s a streaky player, but if he makes a run, it’ll be fun to watch.