Normally the PNC Championship would attract relatively few eyeballs as part of what is called golf’s December “silly season.” Pairing a famous father who has won a major title alongside a son or other family member in a two-person scramble is a fun format but hardly a ratings magnet.
That piece of conventional wisdom figures to get upended this weekend in Orlando, however. The dynamic changed when Tiger Woods totally blindsided the golf world a couple of weeks ago by announcing that he and his 11-year-old son Charlie were going to part of the 20-team field.
It has been no secret that Tiger is a doting and protective dad. The photo of him embracing Charlie after winning the 2019 Masters is priceless. Stories, meanwhile, have leaked out this summer about Charlie winning a couple of 9-hole junior mini tournaments, one of them with Tiger as his caddie.
Few, though, could have anticipated Tiger so soon lifting the veil on Charlie and his golf game for the scrutiny of a nationally televised event with a $200,000 first-place payoff. The money, of course, is an afterthought for the Woods family but the exposure will be off the charts.
How will the kid deal with it?
It’s quite possible he’s so young he won’t even be nervous and will treat the tournament like a trip to nearby Disneyworld. Matter of fact, Tiger is likely to be more uptight than Charlie. Justin Thomas, who will be paired with the Woods duo, has played a few rounds with them and says Tiger’s trash talking has rubbed off on his son.
Tiger leaves little doubt this is going to be a special moment for him.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be playing with Charlie in our first official tournament together,” he said recently. “It’s been great watching him progress as a junior golfer and it will be incredible playing together as a team. It’s going to be an absolute blast to be out there with him. It reminds me so much of me and my dad growing up.”
One of the things to keep in mind while watching Charlie, who is said to have a beautiful golf swing, is that odds and history are stacked against him becoming a great player. There is not a major champion in the field with a son who made it in golf.
Jack Nicklaus isn’t playing this year, but none of his sons ever won a PGA event. Neither did Lee Trevino’s son or Gary Player’s or Tom Watson’s. All total there have been only eight examples of a father and son both winning on the PGA Tour.
The names you would recognize are the Stadlers, the Tways and the Haases. But you must to go back over 100 years to find a case where a son won a major after a father accomplished that feat. For whatever reason, it’s a curiosity of golf that, despite all the built-in advantages, sons have rarely been able to follow in the footsteps of famous fathers.
It happens more in other sports but not a lot. Think Archie Manning’s two quarterbacking sons, Bobby and Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey and Griffey Jr., Dell and Steph Curry. Howie Long had two sons make it in the NFL. But it’s rare. John Daly’s son may have a chance in golf.
Looking not too far down the line, the monster duo looks to be LeBron James and his son. Word is LeBron wants to play at a high level long enough to have his son playing with him on the Lakers.
As far as Tiger and Charlie, you would expect them to become a fixture in the PNC. Beyond that, who knows. Charlie may decide basketball is his game. Or maybe soccer. He still hasn’t discovered girls. Perhaps golf will be in his future. Perhaps not. But it should be fun viewing this weekend on the Golf Channel and NBC.
CHIP SHOTS: Johnny Page of Port Arthur staked a claim Friday to scoring what could be the final hole in one of 2020 at Babe Zaharias Page sank a 5-iron from 140 yards into the teeth of a strong wind on the 12th hole.
Witnesses were Scott Bryant, Richard Briggs and Randy Monk.
Ronnie LaSalle also walked away from Zaharias with an ace last week. LaSalle holed his tee shot from 108 yards with a pitching wedge at the 15th on Tuesday, Dec. 8. The shot was witnessed by Rufus Reyes and Jeff Rinehart . . .
In the Super Saturday 2 ball at Zaharias, the team of Joe Gongora, Jim Cady and Cap Hollier won the front with even par. Plus 1 took the back for the foursome of Ed Holley, Adam Noel, Don MacNeil, and Dwayne Benoit.
The Friday 2 ball at Zaharias saw the team of Ted Freeman, Bob Byerly, Troy Touchet and Richard Menchaca win the front with minus 1. On the back, the team of Earl Richard, Tony Trevino, Harrell Guidry and Stewart Ellis teamed for minus 3 to place first.
Minus 2 claimed the Thursday 2 ball for Raymond Darbonne, Richard, Hollier and a ghost player. The foursome of Gary Fontenot, Bobby Wactor, Steve Wisenbaker and Menchaca won the front with plus 1.
Format for the Wednesday Zaharias DogFight was flighted medal play with handicaps. Kenny Robbins won First Flight with 72, Larry Reese grabbed Second Flight with a 68, Bob Luttrell and Robert Stansbury tied in Third Flight with a 75 and Larry Foster took Fourth Flight at 68.
Closest to the pin winners were Benoit (No. 2, 12-7), Bobby Kimball (No. 7, 6-2), Cady (No. 12, 2-6) and Rick Pritchett (No. 15, 11-10).
Local PGA professional Jerry Honza plans to host a pair of Christmas-week clinics for golfers 10 and up. Cost is $50 for the clinics which will be conducted from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 21 and Dec. 22.
To sign up or get more information, call Honza at 409 719-3949.
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