The wife of a professional golfer flashes across the public stage very briefly, usually as just the other half of a victory hug. But at the Ryder Cup the players' wives are part of the story.
The status of Nick and Gill Faldo's marriage and the midweek engagement of Fred Couples and Tawnya Dodd seemed to generate as much conversation as the golf itself.
Gill responded to stories in Britain that her marriage was in trouble by saying that she didn't "know anything about a divorce." She and her husband were frequently seen holding hands and behaving like an affectionate married couple.
Still, her edginess concerning the British tabloids was evident at the start of the week when she couldn't find her room key, and visions of The Daily Mirror under the bed and The Sun of London in the closet caused her to have the locks changed and new keys issued—right before she found the key in her pocket.
Couples was no less edgy. As he and Dodd were getting ready for Wednesday's black-tie gala, Couples said there was something else he wanted Dodd to wear. She held out her hands, palms up, "thinking that it was a necklace or something, and he slipped on the ring," she said.
All Couples said after that was "O.K., let's go," prompting Dodd to ask what the large cluster of diamonds on her finger meant. "Oh, it doesn't mean anything," said Fred.
Dodd had pinned him down on his intentions by the time the team boarded a bus for the party, and as she moved to the front to allow the ring on her outstretched hand to make the announcement, Couples slunk to a seat in the back. "He was hiding back there; it was so precious," said Julie Crenshaw. "Ben told him, 'Your mulligan will be your best.' " By way of explanation, Julie, Ben's second wife, added, "They call second wives mulligans."
The 26 members of the American team—the captain, his players and their wives—had dinner together every night at a single round table, and they would go around the circle, each speaking his or her mind or telling a joke. Peter Jacobsen was the acknowledged dining-room star, particularly on Friday night when he was clearly still smarting from his math muff yet able to joke about it. It was no laughing matter later that night.
"Peter kept getting up," said Jan Jacobsen, and Peter admitted, "I got hardly any sleep at all. I thought about that 7th hole all night long."
By week's end all the wives could count on long nights with sleepless husbands.