By Barry Pump, Special to PGA.com
KOHLER, Wisc. (PGA.com) -- Chip Sullivan has other things on his mind this week at the 86th PGA Championship. His wife, Kari, is two weeks away from delivering her third child, and couldn't accompany him to Kohler. But on a more somber note, his 44-year-old sister, Kerry, is dying of liver disease in New Orleans.
Sullivan even debated whether to even use his second berth in the PGA, won by a third-place finish at this year's CPC, or stay home with his family. But Kerry had given him orders: she wanted to see him on TV playing on the weekend.
Sullivan, the PGA Head Professional at Ashley Plantation Country Club in Daleville, Va., shot a 1-under par 71 during Friday's second round to move to a 1-under par 143 for the tournament. He leads all of his fellow club professionals, and was one of three club professionals to make the cut.
Kerry got her wish: she'll see her brother playing at the weekend.
"It's one of the nicer feelings I've had in golf," Sullivan said, "to do it and play good enough to be here for her. It's a nice feeling. I'm kind of speechless on that."
Kerry Sullivan had been given six months to live, but she has exceeded those expectations. She exceeded them again on Thursday night when Sullivan's mother called him and said that the prognosis wasn't good.
"I got a call last night from my mom that said my sister was probably going to pass away last night," Sullivan said on Friday. "I realize that golf is not the most important thing out here. I'm just trying to enjoy myself."
Sullivan's wife was so excited by the news of her husband making his first cut in a major that she advanced three centimeters toward birth.
With all that's been happening in Sullivan's life, golf has taken a back seat in all but practice.
"It just doesn't make golf all that important today or this week," he said. "If I hit some bad shots, big deal. I'm here, and I'm going to play for (Kerry), and we'll see what happens."
Four players from the morning rounds went under par Friday, following a day that saw the average score of the club professional lying at just more than 4-over. Three made the 1-over cut at Whistling Straits.
Bill Britton, a PGA Teaching Professional at Eagle Oaks Golf Club in Farmingdale, N.J., came back from a 77 in the first round with dual 35s in the second for 2-under 70, tying his best round in a PGA Championship. The Staten Island, N.Y., native is playing in his seventh PGA after a 12-year hiatus.
Britton hit 14 fairways over two days and 16 greens in regulation, but he had 24 putts on the second day and 29 on the first to keep him with a 1.33 putt- per-green average for the tournament.
Quinn Griffing can't claim past PGA experience as his reason for a 1-under-par 71 in the second round, which erased a 4-over 76 on Thursday and moved him to 3-over for the tournament, but the PGA Head Professional at Sycamore Golf Course in North Manchester, Ind., wasn't saying his bogey-free round was beginners' luck.
"Don't make any mistakes, we club pros can play," the 46-year-old Griffing said. "We have a lot of competitive experience, but for one reason or another we chose to go into the club-related business."
Griffing said that the course played two strokes harder on Friday, with the tougher pin placements and the lengthened course.
"It's just a day where you could never get anxious and just grind it out," he said. "It was just a real solid round -- a round of patience. On this golf course, you can't force anything. You have to be patient with it."
While Sullivan led the club pros, the other first-round CPC co-leader, Zane Zwemke, fired a 76 on Friday that pushed the PGA Teaching Professional at Fitzsimons Golf Course in Aurora, Colo., to a 4-over tournament score that missed the cut.
Golf isn't the most important thing for PGA Head Professional Bruce Smith from the Trails of Frisco Golf Club in Lewisville, Texas. And despite tying for 23rd in the CPC to earn a berth in his first-ever PGA, he had other things on his mind during tournament week.
Smith traveled from his home in Lewisville to Kohler the week before the tournament, practiced for four days and then returned to the Trails of Frisco for a charity celebrity tournament to benefit his two-year-old daughter, Kennedy.
Kennedy was born with a rare facial deformity that requires periodic plastic surgery throughout her life -- cosmetic surgery that Smith's health insurance doesn't cover.
The benefit -- named Kisses Fore Kennedy Celebrity Pro-Am -- on Monday raised more than $50,000 for Kennedy and others with lymphatic malformation and drew celebrities like Chuck Norris. Immediately afterwards, though, Smith came back up to Wisconsin for the tournament.
But during his week of practice before the tournament, Smith had a practice round with 1991 PGA Champion John Daly, who heard of Smith's hectic schedule and gave the club pro a $1,000 in cash out of his own pocket as they walked up the 17th fairway.
"That's the type of support you're going to get when you're in this family," Smith said of PGA members, "and it's just overwhelming."
The story has caught on here at Whistling Straits, and Smith has been given donations from marshals and onlookers alike.
As he walked between the sixth green and the seventh tee, a member of the gallery shook Smith's hand. In the handshake, the gallery member gave Smith a $100 bill.
"It's kind of hard to keep your mind on golf, especially when you're walking from the sixth green to the seventh tee," he said, "that's not the best place to be giving me money because that's a hard shot coming up. It's just been overwhelming."
Smith didn't make the cut on Friday, shooting a 5-over par 77 on Thursday and posting a 10-over 154 for the tournament, but that certainly didn't matter to the 6-foot-8 Texan, who had been the tallest member of the 156-player field.
"The week was fantastic, but what we did for my little girl on Monday sure outweighed any double hockey sticks I could throw up at this tournament," he said. "For my first championship experience, it really was an awesome experience."
Eleven of the 25 CPC qualifiers at Whistling Straits were playing in their first PGA Championship.
And while Sullivan, Jeff Coston and Roy Biancalana made the cut after posting under-par or even-par rounds on Friday, nine players were just happy to have qualified and have a shot at season's last major.
Sean English, a PGA Assistant Professional at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, shot a 12-over par 84 on Friday that gave him a 15-over 159 total for the tournament, but that didn't undermine his enjoyment of the course.
"It was a pleasure," the 34-year-old said. "I don't know what it was and whether yesterday it was just the adrenaline, but I grinded it out and played it better. Today, I just didn't have shots, and my good shots just went bad.
"To be here has been an honor and a pleasure. I can look back on it and my 6-month-old son can look back on it and say what dad did. I wanted to play better - if I had made the cut, that would have been great - but I was here and I enjoyed it."
"It's a major, which is significant, and it's your association," he said. "That's really nice."
World No. 1 Tiger Woods had to scramble to make the cut at Whistling Straits on Friday, but first-time major attendee Alan Schulte, the PGA Head Professional at The Hawthorns Golf and Country Club in Fisher, Ind., wasn't going to give him any advice.
"For me to tell Tiger how to golf would be absolutely silly," he said. "He just needs to play by feel. I don't know if he's getting too mechanical with everybody telling him what to do, but he's got a tremendous golf swing and is obviously the best talent around."
Schulte was one of eight club pros in Kohler who either tied or bested Woods in Thursday's first round, but Schulte didn't think that that was an accomplishment.
"I don't look at it that way," he said. "I realize he played a poor round, too. I just had a few too many loose shots."
PGA Assistant Professional Steve Schneiter, of Schneiter's Pebblebrook in Sandy, Utah, who also tied Woods in the opening round, agreed with Schulte.
"It's golf," he said. "Everyone's going to have a bad round, or a round that's not up to their expectations. Whether I tied Tiger Woods or I beat him, it doesn't matter, it's me. That's who I'm trying to take care of. I just try to do my best and try to set goals for myself."
Four regular caddies at Whistling Straits have helped out CPC qualifiers Mike Small, Bruce Smith, Tim Fleming and Steve Schneiter.
Frank Passa, 24, is a full-time caddy at Whistling Straits and in the off-seasons caddies in Naples, Fla. He paired up with Schneiter for his first major tournament.
"He was a great help," Schneiter said. "I felt confident with all the experience I had with the course, and I felt like I had an advantage."
Passa was a caddie during the 1999 Club Professional Championship in Kohler, but he didn't caddie for Schneiter, who also attended the event.
Passa, a 3-handicap golfer himself, earned an economics degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. But his passion for golf, helped along by his grandfather Ed Taylor, a club professional at Oak Hill Municipal in Carmel, Ind., has kept Passa in the caddieing business for the last five years.
Jon Martell, the caddie for Fleming, originally teamed up with the club pro during the 2004 CPC in Ohio. The pair kept together when Fleming qualified for the PGA at Martell's home course.
Martell has been a caddie at Whistling Straits since it opened six years ago, and caddied at the CPC in 1999 as well. But the 86th PGA his is first major tournament.
"I wasn't nearly as overwhelmed as I thought I'd be," Martell said. "I just stuck to business. But it was nice I had some experience with [Fleming] or it would have been a totally awkward experience."
Many players at the PGA bring extended family members with them to tournaments, but few family members caddie for the player. That's true with Cary Hungate, the PGA Head Professional at Kokomo Country Club in Kokomo, Ind. His son, Ryan -- a player on the Ball State University golf team -- caddied for him throughout the tournament.
"It's fantastic," Hungate said. "We got to chat the whole way. We're talkers, so sometimes we had to keep to ourselves. It was a great time. It was fun to have him out there, and the whole family is here."
Hungate, who finished at 9-over for the tournament, said his concentration wasn't that great when he overheard a customer at the concession stand near the second hole ask for a hotdog.
"Ryan, he does all this movie stuff and I had to back off of the shot because it reminded us of Caddy Shack, where the kid says he wants a hot dog, a cheeseburger and the other guys says, 'You'll get nothing and like it,'" Hungate said. "I had to back off it because we were both about to laugh. That's probably not good concentration."
Alan Schulte and Cary Hungate didn't make the cut at the 86th PGA Championship, but it certainly didn't matter. The Indiana club pros had large galleries from their home courses.
Hungate posed for a picture with nearly 85 members of Kokomo Country Club after his round on Friday.
"That was a real treat," he said.
Schulte said that the club pros always gather a good crowd from their home courses.
"I had a lot of people come out just because they want to see their club pro play," said Schulte, the PGA Head Professional at The Hawthorns Golf and Country Club in Fisher, Ind. "I can guarantee these guys bring a lot of people into wherever the site is.
"It seems so much better to have your own little rooting section and have people cheering for you and whatnot," he said. "It brings some excitement to the whole field."
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