June 9, 2005
ATLANTA – Few citizens can boast of teeing it up on the golf course with the President of the United States. But Nationwide Tour member Bryce Molder can, shooting a mind-boggling 60 with then-President Bill Clinton in August 1999.
Only four players in the history of collegiate golf have earned First Team All-American honors all four years of college. Molder is one of them.
Even fewer professional golfers have had to overcome Poland Syndrome – a fairly rare defect that makes one hand much smaller than the other – or faced the obstacle of being born without a left pectoral chest muscle. But Molder has.
Rest assured, Molder is accustomed to handling pressure-packed situations and overcoming the odds. But little prepared the former Georgia Tech standout for his latest challenge on Tuesday night.
As a guest of the Chicago Cubs, and a representative of the LaSalle Bank Open and the Nationwide Tour, Molder threw out the first pitch prior to Tuesday night’s match-up between the Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays.
A jam-packed crowd at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, including a large contingent of Nationwide Tour players, witnessed Molder throw out the ceremonial pitch. Sporting a Chicago Cubs jersey and a LaSalle Bank Open hat, Molder’s pitch to Cub’s pitcher John Koronka was well thrown, even if a hair outside.
“I planned on winging it in there,” said Molder. “But when I walked up to the mound and turned toward home plate, all of a sudden 60 feet and 6 inches turned into 60 yards. I’ll admit it was a little low and outside, but at least he didn’t have to stretch too far to catch it.”
A little ribbing from his friends didn’t help Molder’s cause.
“I don’t think I had one person who didn’t tell me not to throw it in the dirt,” said Molder. “Even The Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz told me a strike would be shown once or twice on their telecast this week, but a ball in the dirt would be shown at least 10 to 15 times.”
The pitching mound wasn’t unfamiliar territory for Molder, who grew up a fan of the Texas Rangers and an admirer of Los Angeles Dodgers’ hurler Orel Hershiser. He played the sport during his childhood years, pitching for a local Little League baseball team in his hometown of Harrison, Arkansas.
“I grew up playing all sports and even pitched in baseball,” said Molder. “I knew what to do out there. It was just a matter of if I could do it in that situation. But believe it or not, I wasn’t as concerned with the fans in attendance as I was about the golfers watching me. The fans would have forgotten a bad pitch once the game started, but all of the guys I see out here every week would have given me grief all year long.”
Pitching at Wrigley Field added to the drama for Molder.
“I mean we are talking about Wrigley Field, perhaps the best ballpark in baseball,” said Molder. “There could have been no one in the stands and it would have been intimidating enough. It is like the first time you play the Augusta National. You are going to be nervous because it is Augusta.”