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For a day, PGA Tour stars take backseat to Panthers’ Greg Olsen, Luke Kuechly

Greg Olsen and Luke Kuechly at the Wells Fargo Pro-Am

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen played in the Wells Fargo Pro-Am on Wednesday with teammate Luke Kuechly serving as his caddie.
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Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen played in the Wells Fargo Pro-Am on Wednesday with teammate Luke Kuechly serving as his caddie.

Around lunchtime Wednesday at Quail Hollow Club, a crowd of fans and reporters began gathering while three-time major winner Rory McIlroy was pounding balls on the driving range.

But the media mass was on the opposite end of the range from McIlroy, pointing its cameras and microphones toward Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker Luke Kuechly, Olsen's caddie for the pro-am tournament at the Wells Fargo Championship.

After an errant short iron from Olsen, Kuechly used some tried-and-true caddiespeak to keep Olsen's spirits up.

"Get the bad ones out of the way," Kuechly said.

"That's not a bad one," Olsen shot back. "I'll take that."

Olsen looked the part Wednesday with stylish white pants, a Nike hat and black vest. But he was feeling a little tight on the range after a morning lift at Bank of America Stadium.

"Working out is not conducive to this," Olsen said.

Kuechly mentioned that maybe lifting was not a great idea.

"What am I going to tell them -- I can't work out, I'm golfing?" Olsen said.

After a few more fatted shots, Olsen took a breather and stopped to watch Charlotte resident Webb Simpson, who was hitting next to him on the range.

"I'm going to sit here and watch you for a minute," Olsen said to Simpson,the 2012 U.S. Open champion. "See if I can figure it out."

A few minutes later Olsen and Kuechly were headed to the putting green, where Olsen marveled at the speed of the green while Kuechly signed autographs for fans.

Kuechly, three months removed from February shoulder surgery, was asked how his repaired left labrum would hold up under the rigors of 18 holes on the bag.

"I'll put it on the good arm and I'll be good to go," Kuechly said, smiling.

Kuechly pulled a Quail Hollow yardage book from the pocket of his golf shorts to show reporters. But said he wasn't going to try to read greens or suggest clubs for Olsen.

Olsen and Kuechly agreed Kuechly's role was to provide moral support.

"I don't need him cleaning my clubs," Olsen said. "I can't ask him to do that."

A tournament official gave both players Sharpies to sign autographs for the fans lining the course. But there was still the matter of Olsen hitting his tee shot in front of a gallery on the 418-yard first hole -- a nerve-wracking experience for anyone, NFL player or otherwise.

After the starter took the unusual step of introducing Olsen and his caddie -- prompting cheers of "Luuuuuuukkkkeee" -- Charlotte pro Johnson Wagner was first off the tee. Next up was Olsen, whose drive was accompanied by someone yelling, "Get in the hole!"

That someone was Panthers right tackle Mike Remmers, who joined center Ryan Kalil and left guard Andrew Norwell in Olsen's gallery.

Alas, Olsen's shot did not get in the hole. It landed deep in the pine straw along the right side of the fairway.

But from that first shot, it was obvious Olsen's support system extended beyond his caddie Kuechly.

"He got it off the tee," Kalil said. "That's all that matters."

"It wasn't the best shot," Remmers agreed. "But it's Olsen, he can make it happen."

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