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Winner’s wife is family’s ‘glue’

Golfing Tewells stay close thanks to huge phone bill

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PARK CITY— Cell phones are a no-no on any golf course, but Pam Tewell had hers out and ready to dial as the top golfers finished their final hole Sunday afternoon.

For most of the day, her husband, Doug Tewell, had been tied with Gil Morgan for the lead. She clutched her phone and readied her finger to dial her son Jay's phone number.

Today she would have good news for her children, as her husband won his third tournament on the PGA Senior Tour in this, his rookie year. He took the championship of the Novell Utah Showdown at Park Meadows by shooting one better than Morgan, who lives just down the street from him.

The telephone is how the Tewell family has survived 26 years of professional golf. Since they can't always be together on the course, the family member there makes phone calls to the rest with results.

"The telephone kept us together as a family," Pam Tewell said. "We always had no-holds-barred on the phone. We have a gigantic phone bill. We are very, very close."

Pam Tewell always has split her time between home and the road, and it's not only to watch her husband play golf. Her son decided two months ago that he would quit professional golf and find what she called a regular job.

Her son-in-law is Pat Bates, a regular on the Buy.Com Tour, which will be in Utah in two weeks. She loves golf and plays in the PGA's wives tournament every so often. Her clubs are more like china that is seldom used and nice to have but not critical to everyday life. What is critical to her family is her support.

"I say I'm the glue," she said. "I just don't have the time for it (playing golf)."

In 31 years of marriage, she has only missed one of her childhood sweetheart's victories. It was earlier this year at the PGA Senior Championship. She took a call the morning of the final round. Jay's wife, Sonia, had gone into labor with their first child, her third grandchild.

"It was a gut-wrenching decision," she said a bit regretfully. "But Doug and I talked about it, and Kristi and Pat were there to watch him. Jay got me.

"I missed the birth by 20 minutes. Kristi (their daughter) called me on the phone to tell me about the finish."

Doug and Pam Tewell met when they were sixth-graders in Sunday school. They've been together ever since. And Pam said they've been looking forward to this time on the Senior Tour as a chance for them to travel together.

It's also been her husband's most successful year. His best year in the PGA saw him win $310,285. His victory Sunday brings his total earnings in his first year on the Senior Tour to $1,234,503.

The Senior Tour is much different, Pam Tewell said.

"It's more laid back, and the crowds are smaller," she said. The places they go are different, she explained, and that adds excitement and adventure to the travel they must do. "The other (tour) had become routine."

Her husband turns 51 next Sunday, and he said he's taking the weekend off.

"It's sort of a family joke that he needs a special occasion to win," she said. Tewell won on Father's Day, his son's birthday in 1980 (his first win) and his grandson's birthday.

But last year, the day after he turned 50, Pam Tewell wondered if golf might be a memory.

Doug and Jay Tewell were playing golf to prepare for Doug's debut on the Senior Tour the following week. He swung and fell to the ground, barely able to move. He managed to get home but laid on the floor for seven hours until his wife arrived and called a doctor. He spent 10 days in bed and months in physical therapy recovering from a herniated disc that has bothered him since college. Neither husband nor wife mention the possibility that they both considered.

"It's something you don't talk about," she said of ending his career. "We both knew this was really serious, that it might require surgery. He played hurt for the final five tournaments (of 1999), and because they can ride a cart (in the Senior Tour), he was able to do it."

With his newly healed back, Doug Tewell has taken the Senior Tour by storm. He played well all weekend at Park Meadows, except for his first hole in the first round, when he double bogeyed.

But Tewell managed to shoot a 67 that first day. He went on in the second round to tie for the lead with a 66. Sunday morning Pam Tewell made sure she had her phone as she watched her husband hang on for the win.

"I'm not surprised (he won)," she said, "but you never know what each day will bring on the golf course."

E-MAIL: adonaldson@desnews.com