Golfer plays Wells Fargo event in place of late friend

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The odds are that Kelly Mitchum won't see the weekend in Charlotte. The lead teaching instructor at Pinehurst has only made the cut once in 7 previous tries at the Wells Fargo Championship.

This weekend though, the former N.C. State golfer has much more important things than a scorecard on his mind.

Mitchum is playing in place of his friend Michael Townsend, who qualified last summer only to lose his life just nine days later in a fatal car accident.

There's an added layer of heartbreak here. Townsend's car crash was the morning of his daughter Ana Kate's first birthday, so that's now a joyous and somber anniversary for the family.

Mitchum is collecting donations for every birdie or par he makes during the tournament, but any donation is welcomed.

"What Kelly is doing means more to me than any dollar amount he raises," said Katherine Townsend, the widow of Michael Townsend. "He's showing the world, the golf community, and most importantly my children that the game of golf is about honor and respect.

"While the kids' memories of Michael are all but gone, Kelly is showing us that Michael's spirit will forever live on in the game he loved."

If you'd like to donate, it's simple, just email tournaments@pinehurst.com.

FULL NOTE FROM KATHERINE TOWNSEND


My dad is the one who told me about the beautiful tribute Kelly had planned for Michael. I was completely and totally shocked. It's been almost nine months since he passed, I can't help but mark the months because he died on Ana Kate's first birthday. Everyday I see the world around me continue to move forward especially with the kids. Each day that passes I see their memories of their father quickly fade. They'll never know the amazing man that I was so fortunate enough to spend 16 years of my life with. They do have his love for the game of golf and I hope that brings them some sort of connection and comfort in the years to come.

What Kelly is doing means more to me than any dollar amount he raises. He's showing the world, the golf community, and most importantly my children that the game of golf is about honor and respect. It's about banding together to support one of their own on and off the course in their time of need. While the kids memories of Michael are all but gone, Kelly is showing us that Michael spirit will forever live on in the game that he loved. Kelly is a true gentleman and a great role model. Michael was lucky to have him as a competitor and more importantly, a friend. I cannot thank Kelly and the members of the PGA enough for all that they have done for us. I wish that I could be there to cheer him on but I hope he knows I'll be cheering from the set. I wish him the absolute best of lucky and I know Michael would be so incredibly proud of what he's doing. My heart aches because this was Michael's dream and he was never able to see it come true but I still can't help be over the moon Kelly has this opportunity.

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