Deangelo Stowe walked across the bridge following the 18th hole, waving to admirers below at Wednesday’s Wells Fargo Championship pro-am.
At the bottom of the stairs he stopped to sign autographs for anyone who asked. In front of him was his playing partner and former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, who walked and talked and signed as he went to the No. 1 to tee off at the group’s 10th hole of the day.
Tournament officials had already put down the ropes to allow patrons to walk by the time the 5-foot-11, 150-pound Stowe came jogging up the hill trying to play catch-up.
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Stowe, a 15-year-old Myers Park sophomore, was playing with Simpson after being nominated by The First Tee of Charlotte, a youth development program that teaches the game of golf as well as life skills.
It was the first time he had played in a pro-am. It was also the first time he signed his autograph.
“It was like a conveyor belt,” Stowe said.
Team Simpson finished at 4-under par with the help of Stowe’s “nice round,” as he called it.
Dressed in a just-loud-enough teal shirt, white pants with a white Oakley belt and an earring in his left ear, Stowe admittedly had some nerves during the first few holes.
Stowe became the first member of The First Tee of Charlotte to play in the Wells Fargo Championship pro-am. First Tee of Charlotte executive director Ike Granger nominated Stowe to be the organization’s participant when fellow Team Simpson amateur Peter Foss said he had an open spot.
“He paid attention, not only to the golf aspect of The First Tee, but the core values – goal setting, self-management, courtesy, sportsmanship,” Granger said. “He’s a student of the game, for sure, but he’s also been more than that. He’s a young man with great character who’s a student of what The First Tee is teaching.”
Stowe’s first love was football, but after going by the Revolution Park golf course and seeing kids play, as well as the encouragement of his grandfather, Stowe put away his football cleats and picked up the game.
“The times my father tried to teach me how to play golf, I was fixated on baseball,” said Carl Stowe Jr., Deangelo’s father. “I chose baseball, and he had more time to put into it with Deangelo. We’re seeing the benefits of it now. He’s young, he’s 15, and he’s ahead of the game, but he still has a ways to go.”
A year ago, Stowe would have said he wanted to be a professional golfer. But now, with the networking he’s done on golf courses across the region and his mind for business, he thinks he may be better suited to climb the corporate ladder.
He settled down after a few holes after talking with Simpson, whom Stowe said was a down-to-earth guy. On one errant tee shot, he dipped under a rope and found a friend. They shook hands and held a conversation while Stowe walked toward the pine straw for his second shot.
He began showing command of the crowd following him – mostly younger members of The First Tee. After the first hole, he joked with one of his peers wearing a book bag and signed autographs for several younger kids.
“I got to go,” Stowe said as he started what was becoming a familiar jog to the next tee box. “Next hole.”
He sure sounded like a pro.