May 7 2013
The Golf Channel's Win McMurry had Olympian Michael Phelps on the bag Tuesday. (Photo by Michael Curet)
By Michael Curet, Special to PGATOUR.com
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Unforgettable. That's how the wives and girlfriends felt Tuesday at TPC Sawgrass as their husbands shortened their practice sessions for THE PLAYERS Championship this week to carry the clubs of their "better halves" in celebration of the PGA TOUR Wives Association's Golf Classic at Dye's Valley.
A portion of proceeds from Tuesday's event will be donated to Community PedsCare and the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund.
In its 25th year, the PTWA has raised over $5 million, working with hundreds of charities impacting thousands of children.
Webb Simpson was one of the first to answer the call and carry the bag for his wife Dowd. "We're doing something good," Simpson said. "This isn't much work for us. This is fun. What the PGA TOUR Wives Association has been able to do for the last 25 years is incredible."
Watching the look on Dowd's face as she rolled in a short putt on the first hole was a joy for Webb. It didn't seem to matter that it was only three feet. But being together when it happened made it priceless.
"I think the hardest thing is that I wanted her to do well today and now I know what she goes through pulling for me," Simpson said.
"This is my first time playing in this event," Dowd said. "I've been pregnant every other time and couldn't swing a club around my belly. This time I get to participate. I love everything the association does in terms of giving back to children and families in need. It was such a great day. "
As for how the rest of the day went on the course, Dowd simply said, "I need to get to the range to work on my irons."
The field did not lack star power either. PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem caddied for wife Holly and skillfully read his share of putts -- although the commissioner noted later that "rather than me trying to give her lessons, she gave lessons to the caddie."
The biggest galleries were reserved for arguably the greatest Olympian as multiple U.S. gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps, an aspiring golfer, offered his support. Phelps caddied for Golf Channel's Win McMurry, with Jim and Debbie Thompson, Peter and Jan Jacobson, and Arron and Angie Oberholser also in the same group.
One of the afternoon highlights was a 25-foot eagle putt made by Angie Oberholser, a former LPGA player.
"It's pretty hard to miss when you're aiming at Michael Phelps' foot," said Angie, citing Phelps' neon-colored sneakers when he tended the hole. "The guys gave me the read and all I had to do was hit it in. I haven't played so much lately, but sometimes the game comes back."
Although many of the wives were playing for the very first time, Kelly Molder (wife of Bryce Molder) perhaps had the most impressive debut -- at least in the eyes of her husband.
"She hit a bunker shot from like 50 yards onto the 18th green, which any of the PGA TOUR pros would have been happy just to get it on the green," Bryce said. "And she also made a 30-foot putt."
Molder joked that his group, the only fivesome in the field, might have been on the clock. "We were trying to move things along," Bryce noted. "I think the guys were a lot more interested in the shots than the girls were."
Another current PTWA project is the new book published by the wives, entitled "Beyond the Fairways and Greens" which includes personal stories, photos and recipes from PGA TOUR families. For more information, click here.