Family members endure highs and lows along with their players

From top left: Lynn Sowards (top left), Bill and Ashley Murchison (bottom left), Alan Morin with Adrian and Arthur Morin (right).

Family members endure highs and lows along with their players

For the 312 players, the PGA Professional National Championship is full of highs and lows. Anfd the stress might be even worse for the family members who are there to cheer them on.

By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer

SEASIDE, Calif. -- Blood is certainly thicker than water -- or the rough here at the PGA Professional National Championship. 

For the 312 PGA Professionals chasing the top 20 spots and a berth in the PGA Championship, the week is full of highs and lows, anguish and fist pumps. The emotional roller coasters of the week can leave them exhausted, dizzy, faint and nauseous. And it might even worse for the family members who are there to witness them during their rounds. 

Adrian and Arthur Morin have followed their son Alan across the country, attending all of his major events -- walking each round along the way. 

"Feels wonderful," Adrian Morin said with a laugh while resting in a chair after her son's round. "It is tiring," she admitted, "but we do it for the kid."

Alan Morin, a PGA Professional at The Falls Country Club in Lake Worth, Fla., finished at 1 over for the championship, tied for 13th and is headed to Kiawah and the PGA Championship. 

"We first followed him in a major championship in 1998, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Olympic Club," said Alan's father Arthur Morin. "He made it through qualifying, gave us a call and told us to make some reservations for San Francisco.  Since then, he's played in four PGA Championships, two U.S. Opens, several Honda Classic events and several of these PGA Club Professional Championships.  And we've just continued to follow him every step of the way."

Kellyn Jertson, wife of Marty Jertson, a Senior Design Engineer at PING Golf, admitted watching her husband took a toll on her as the week progressed. 

"Oh, it turns our gut," she said smiling with relief after Marty's total 1-under 287 gave him a tie for seventh place. "He (Marty) didn't get off to a great start this week and so, even in the second round, fighting to make the cut was emotionally taxing."

She did find some solace that the walk wasn't as taxing as it could be. "With this scenery and the cool temperatures, it's a tougher walk back home in Arizona."

Not every family member felt that walking with their spouse was the best way to show support. 

"No, I didn't walk with him today," laughed Lynn Sowards, wife of Bob Sowards, a PGA teaching professional at New Albany (Ohio) Country Club. "If I start off not walking, I'm superstitious so I have to stay away." 

Lynn says Bob knows of her constant encouragement, whether she's there on the course with him or not.

"My biggest support is that I'm clapping -- regardless of whether he makes a birdie, par or bogey.  I'm always so proud of Bob and the way he handles himself," she said. "I also think I can keep his mind off the game when he's off the course; we'll go to dinner, to see a movie. We often travel with our daughter so there are many opportunities for him to think about other things, to get a break from the mental grind playing can take on him."

But that commitment can't extend beyond the superstitions. 

"That's how I deal with my nerves," she smiled. "I get really nervous. I walked the first 36 holes, but when he had a poor start in the third round, I backed off. When he started playing well again, I stayed away. This is a big, big week for him and all the professionals here."

"Make a birdie, make a birdie, make a birdie" was the mantra Ashley Murchison, wife of Bill Murchison, a PGA Professional from Towne Lake Hills Golf Club in Woodstock, Ga., repeated to herself as her husband came down the stretch with a chance to make the top 20.

"I was nervous and calm, just a weird mixture of both," she said with a big grin after he clinched his spot in the PGA Championship field. "We don't have a regular communication when he's out there and I'm walking along, but I try to always have a smile on my face for him in case he looks over."

Andy and Jason Balin were out supporting their brother Danny, a PGA Professional at Burning Tree Country Club in Greenwich, Conn. 

"I think it's even worse not being able to hit a shot for him," said Andy. "You're not able to control anything, affect anything. We're just on pins and needles with whatever he's doing."

"It is more stressful to be a spectator rather than playing," agreed Jason. "We try to keep our distance and let him and his caddie play their game -- they're pretty good at it."

"I think he definitely looks at us when he hits a good shot," added oldest brother Andy. "I think he wants that moral encouragement. After he saved a great par on No. 1, we made eye contact, we gave him some fist pumps and head nods. It keeps his confidence up."

And just because they are out here following doesn’t necessarily mean these are golf families just spending more time on the course. They are definitely families first, then perhaps golf-savvy supporters next. 

"You just keep praying it goes in the hole," Adrian Morin said. "I pray it goes up in the air, on the green and in the hole. That's all I pray for. I don't play golf so I don't always know exactly what is happening, but I want him to succeed and be happy."