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THE HEROINE OF THE 13TH HOLE
Mary Bea Porter, A 15th-year LPGA pro with under $50,000 I in career earnings, was trying to qualify for the Standard Register Turquoise Classic last Wednesday at the Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix when she saved a life. She was playing the 13th hole when, beyond a seven-foot wrought-iron fence lining the fairway, she saw a man in Amish attire leap into a swimming pool. Bewildered, Porter looked closer and saw a small child floating facedown in the water. She took off toward the pool.
Porter, 38, who has a five-year-old son of her own, reached the fence and attempted unsuccessfully to scale it. Then she beckoned madly to her caddie, Wayne Sharpe, who was standing 60 yards away near the green, for help. When he arrived, Porter clasped her hands and offered to boost him over the fence. Sharpe is 6'4" and 235 pounds: Porter is 5'7" and 150. He lifted her over the fence instead.
By now the Amish man, Christian Smucker, had pulled his three-year-old son, Jonathan, out of the pool and was holding him by the ankles, shaking him and swinging him in the air. Smucker seemed confused and helpless. As soon as he saw Porter, he thrust the child into her arms. "He kept apologizing, saying he was just a farmer visiting from Pennsylvania," says Sharpe.
Porter, who has no CPR training but "knew a little from watching TV," laid the boy down and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She worked like a veteran paramedic. Suddenly the child's chest heaved with breath. "His heart started like an engine," Porter recalls. Emergency vehicles arrived, and Jonathan was taken to the hospital, where he was found to be frightened but unhurt.
Porter, shaken, returned to the course. Not surprisingly, her game fell apart. She finished with a 76 and failed to qualify by three strokes.
The next day more than 90 pros playing at another LPGA event, in Tucson, signed a petition requesting that Porter be given a qualifying exemption for the Phoenix tournament, which takes place this week. LPGA commissioner John Laupheimer agreed and granted the exemption, citing Porter's "exemplary heroism."
"I'll always feel a bond to that child," says Porter. "This whole thing has put life in a new perspective." She plans to take a CPR class in the near future and teach the technique to other women on the tour.