Former SJSU Golfer Wins Big Break Atlantis
ORLANDO, Fla. - Marcela Leon (Orlando, Fla., / Monterrey, Mexico), defeated Selanee Henderson (Temecula, Calif.) in a pressure-packed season finale on Monday to be crowned winner of Big Break Atlantis, Golf Channel's 17th season of its franchise reality competition series.
Contested at the Ocean Club Golf Course at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas, the match was dominated by Leon from the outset. Leon quickly gained the advantage on the front nine, building her lead to 4-up after nine holes. Henderson, who found renewed confidence in her game during the course of the 11-week series, refused to give up, winning her first hole on the par-5 13th. However, Leon's lead was too great for Henderson to overcome and she closed out the match on the par-3 14th hole with a two-putt par to seal the victory.
"I've worked hard through the years, but for some reason, I haven't been able to achieve my goal," said an emotional Leon after winning the series. "This just makes it better and everything sweeter. This makes all of the hard work, all of the frustrations...I am just thankful."
"This experience has meant a lot to me," said Henderson following the conclusion of the championship match. "I have grown a lot. I've learned how to deal with my nerves so that I can play like the player I know that I am. I will take that with me, not only for the rest of my career, but for the rest of my life."
As champion of Big Break Atlantis, Leon receives one of the most valuable prize packages in Big Break series history, highlighted by an invitation to compete in the 2012 LPGA Kingsmill Championship in September and $50,000 in cash. In addition, Leon receives an Adams Golf endorsement contract, which includes $10,000 in cash; $10,000 shopping spree to Dick's Sporting Goods; $10,000 car rental credit for from Avis Car Rental and a return trip for two to Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas.
On Monday at 9 p.m. ET, the entire cast from Big Break Atlantis will reunite for the first time since the series concluded filming in January for a special reunion show. Hosted by Stephanie Sparks and Tom Abbott, Big Break Atlantis - Reunion will be shot at Universal Orlando CityWalk before a studio audience.
The 11-part Big Break Atlantis series unfolded on the Tom Weiskopf-designed Ocean Club Golf Course, a picturesque par-72 championship layout featuring breathtaking signature holes, and seaside greens and tees stretched over 7,100 yards of coastline.
The Big Break show concept pits highly skilled golfers against each other in a variety of challenges that test their physical skills and mental toughness. One contestant was eliminated each week during Big Break Atlantis. The last player standing was awarded her Big Break, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in the 2012 LPGA Kingsmill Championship and more than $80,000 in cash and prizes.
Past Big Break champions have won tournament exemptions to compete on some of the world's top professional circuits, including the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, Web.com Tour and Canadian Tour. Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, Big Break VII: Reunion champion and PGA TOUR professional, caught the world's attention in 2011 with three top-five finishes, and Big Break Ireland champion Mark Murphy made the cut in both of his 2012 events on the European Tour he received as a result of winning the series (Trophee Hassan II and The Irish Open).
Several other past Big Break competitors are currently competing on the world's top tours, including Matt Every (PGA TOUR), James Nitties (Web.com Tour), Kim Welch and Sara Brown (Ladies European Tour); and Gerina Piller, 2011 Solheim Cup team member Ryann O'Toole and 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup Team member Kristy McPherson (LPGA Tour).