LODI, Calif. (June 4, 2010) -- Russell Humphrey and James Watt have partnered in many four ball events, and they especially love teaming up on the Monterey Peninsula, where they can bring the families and "make a weekend of it."
But Humphrey had good reason to stay at home and make the 166 mile daily trek from Lodi to Pebble Beach at the 2010 NCGA Four Ball -- his wife Sarah was expecting their second child just four days from the final round.
Humphrey, 38, who opened his own law practice after a stint with the D.A.'s office and then with another firm, had the full cooperation of a very understanding spouse.
"Our agreement was that I would have my cell phone on vibrate so I would be able to leave the course in case of emergency," said Humphrey in a recent telephone interview.
Things got interesting when the Humphrey/Watt team busted out of the gate with an 8-under 64 at the challenging Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Layout known to many as "Spy" and universally beloved by California amateurs. Humphrey, who won the 1994 WCC individual championship while playing for the University of San Francisco, fired a spectacular 68 during that opening round on his own ball. So much for being a "heavy" partner.
Drawing an afternoon pairing for Friday's second round, a solid 69 put Humphrey and Watt in second place and ensured them a spot in the final foursome. And that's when the story gets "all world hall of fame golfing wife" level interesting.
At 7:30pm on Saturday, Sarah's contractions were starting, and As Humphrey made his way back to Lodi, the couple timed them together on the phone. When he got home at 10:00pm, there was plenty of time, and Humphrey's 2 year old daughter was in the good hands of his mother. Bags packed, ready to go.
"The doctor told us to come in when the contractions were once every five minutes for an hour, and that didn't happen until 12:30am," explained Humphrey.
The couple arrived at the hospital at 1:00am, and things started moving in fast forward. There will be no six hour rounds for young Gavin Russell, who was as somehow must have sensed that his father had a tee time to make.
Sarah Humphrey was taken into her room without time for admissions paperwork and by 1:13 she was in the room, at the center of a somewhat frantic scene of nurses prepping and the doctor getting ready without even time for medication or an IV. In 15 minutes, the Humphreys were the proud parents of a healthy 7 lb, 2 oz baby boy, and 2-year-old Isabel had a baby brother.
As the Humphreys enjoyed their new baby until 4 a.m. an amazing thing happened, probably putting Sarah into the all-time golf wife hall of fame. She told her husband: “Not only do you need to play; you need to get down there and play well.”
On no sleep, at a golf course playing tougher due to a cool breezy day, Sunday pins, and the normal final round pressure, that was no easy task.
Humphrey may have been tired, but he was running on adrenaline and said he didn’t feel nervous at all. “I had a really peaceful feeling all day – just seeing the big picture.”
The Watt/Humphrey duo made bogeys on Nos. 6 and 8 on the front nine, two really tough uphill par fours. Humphrey chipped in on the 9th, made another at the 11th, and got a key save from his partner at the par-3 12th, where he Watt drained a 15 foot bogey putt. Solid pars down the stretch meant that they knew exactly what they had to do on the 18th green, where Humphrey was facing a downhill slider of 18 feet. Make it, and get in a playoff.
The partners decided that – even though it was a tough read – the putt needed to be struck like they wanted to be in that playoff, and that’s exactly how Humphrey hit it; into the back of the cup to get into a playoff with two of Northern California’s most formidable competitors, Randy Haag and Darryl Donovan.
Clearly, this story has a happy ending, no matter that Haag and Donovan won the playoff with a birdie on the second extra hole. What Humphrey’s family, his partner, and all of the competitors who got the “inside info” on what was going were part of that weekend in May was pretty special.