- Theme Parks
- Walt Disney World
- Vacation Tips
The PNC Father/Son Challenge is back in Orlando this weekend and its an opportunity for golf fans to go back down memory lane and remember some of the golfing greats as players like Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo and Hale Irwin tee it up with their off spring
Bernhard Langer and his son Jason (pictured above) will return as the defending champions and they know this tournament is about far more than simply winning.
“The whole tournament is all about family and spending time with your family and the families of other players,” said Bernhard. “For these youngsters it is an amazing few days where they can rub shoulders with some of the legends of the game, deepen some friendships we have and create new memories.”
The memories made at the 2014 PNC Father/Son Challenge were a bit unexpected, however. Bernhard was signed up to play with his daughter Christina, a collegiate golfer at Florida Atlantic University. She was forced to withdraw due to a back injury. That’s when Bernhard’s 14-year old son, Jason, said he was ready to play.
Bernhard warned Jason that playing golf in front of spectators and for live television was a different experience, but Jason assured him it was his time. While Christina agreed it was impossible for her to play, she reminded Jason that she would be playing the next year once she was healthy again. Jason tried to negotiate that if the father–son team had a Top-5 or Top-3 finish in 2014, he could play again in 2015, but Christina didn’t agree. Only if Bernhard and Jason were to win, she agreed, Jason would play to defend.
With Bernhard being a “realist” as he says, he wasn’t thinking a win was likely last year. Jason was in the middle of his high school soccer season and was coming off a disappointing appearance at the Florida 1A state golf championships the month prior, so his golf game was little rusty. Jason used the two pro-am days and extra free time in Orlando to get his swing back in shape.
“It felt really good to hit a good first drive on the first tee on Saturday and just hitting consistently decent shots gave me a level of confidence,” said Jason. “It’s always nice having a good backup behind you. It always makes it more comfortable.”
“One of the standout shots for me would certainly be Jason’s first tee shot,” said Bernhard. “He had to be a little nervous the way he played before and this was his first big tournament. He hit first and I watched him and he just ripped a beautiful drive down the middle. I’m thinking ‘Wow, that was pretty awesome to do that under the circumstances.’”
The awesome continued throughout the weekend.
With red-hot putting, including a nearly 90-foot eagle on #3 by Bernhard, the Langers found themselves 8-under through seven holes on Sunday. They were able to hold off Davis and Dru Love and give Bernhard his third Father/Son title.
“With the Langers’ entertaining win in 2014, this remains an event that celebrates family as much as it does championship golf,” said Rob Reilly, chief financial officer for The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. “This tournament is a great time to build and strengthen relationships that we enjoy with Arnold Palmer, our customers, the community and everyone involved in this event.”
Bernhard won in 2005 and 2006 with Jason’s older brother, Stefan. Winning at age 15, Stefan had previously held the record as the youngest child to win the title. In 2014, Jason took over that title, however, going back-to-back to match his big brother’s other feat isn’t top of mind for Jason this year.
“I try not to expect anything,” said Jason. “We will just try and play as slow as we can. If we can continue to putt like we did last year — that always helps. Anything is possible. I’m just looking forward to a good time.”
It hasn’t been quite the same road to the PNC Father/Son as it was in 2014. The start of the 2015 season wasn’t what Bernhard is used to. Early in the year, Christina, 22, had two back surgeries and Jason broke his pelvic bone playing soccer. Bernhard missed a few Champions Tour tournaments to stay home with his family. He also opted to play in the Porsche European Open on the European Tour at the Beckenbauer Golf Course that he designed on his home soil in Germany.
With the unusual start, Bernhard spent much of 2015 chasing the yellow bib instead of being the frontrunner. Consistency paid off. He placed in the Top-3 in nine events and won two of his final three events, earning him the Charles Schwab Cup, his second in a row and record third overall, and the money title for the seventh year out of the last eight.
“Almost every team in the field has a chance to win,” said Bernhard. “They are all great champions and some of their sons are very, very good players. We certainly aren’t the favorites. We are probably the underdogs.”
Thankfully Jason’s injury didn’t require surgery and after four months of rest, he is healthy once again and looking forward to returning to Orlando. The uniqueness of the weekend is not lost on Jason.
“Even to be on the range next to Jack [Nicklaus] and Vijay [Singh] and Davis Love is hard to comprehend at the time, but it is such a cool experience,” he said. “It’s something that very few people can have and I really enjoyed it.”
The Langers expect their gallery to be full of family and friends once again this year. Bernhard’s daughter, Christina, will also be on the course at the PNC Father/Son this year, but in a different role than she might have expected – as Jason’s caddie.
The golfers aren’t the only ones who can spend time with their families at the tournament, thanks to PNC’s support. Children age 15 years and younger receive complimentary admission with an accompanying adult. In addition, active military, reservists, military retirees and their families are invited to attend The United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters Pavilion on the 18th hole to enjoy complementary snacks and beverages.
Area children also will benefit from golf clinics sponsored by PNC along with the company’s support of the Blessings in a Backpack program, which provides food for needy children to take home each week of the school year. PNC also has contributed $600,000 since 2012 to the “Healthy Families Orange” program, which is administered through the Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families.
The tournament brings more than just great golf to Central Florida though as it impacts the Orlando-area community in ways that affect fans of all generations and genders. Support of programs and events like the Healthy Families Orange Program (HFO), Blessings in a Backpack, the LPGA Girls’ Golf Extravaganza and military appreciation shows the tournament and PNC’s commitment to the Central Florida community.
Twenty teams made up of golf legends including 12 World Golf Hall of Fame members, with 350 PGA TOUR victories and 64 major championships and their children, will tee it up from 11 December through to 13th December at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando.
The family-oriented event, held for 15 years from 1995-2008, made a return in 2012 with new title sponsor, The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Past winners and legends of the game include Larry Nelson (2004, 2007-08), Hale Irwin (2003), Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001) and Jack Nicklaus (pictured above) (1999).
Current U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III is one of 10 Ryder Cup captains who will compete in the Challenge. Nick Faldo (’08), Floyd (’89), Langer (’04), Tom Lehman (’06), Nicklaus (’83 and ’87), Dave Stockton (’91), Curtis Strange (’02), Lee Trevino (’85) and Lanny Wadkins (’95) have also served as captains of Ryder Cup teams.
The legends will participate in Pro-Ams on Thursday, Dec. 10 and Friday, Dec. 11, with tee times beginning at 7:30 a.m. Television coverage of the PNC Father/Son Challenge will air Saturday, Dec. 12 on Golf Channel from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET and on NBC from 4-6 p.m. ET on and Sunday, Dec. 13 on Golf Channel from 2-3 p.m. ET and on NBC from 3-6 p.m. ET. The Golf Channel also will air a Pro-Am Special on Friday, Dec. 11 at 4 p.m. ET.
2015 PNC Father/Son Challenge Field (bold denotes World Golf Hall Of Fame)
To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS during their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters and grandsons participate over the years. In one poignant exception in 2008, a close family friend also participated when Payne Stewart’s son, Aaron, teamed up with Paul Azinger, Stewart’s long-time friend.
The 20-team field competes in a scramble format over 36 holes for the $1,085,000 prize purse and the Willie Park trophies, named after Willie Park, and his son Willie Park Jr., who combined to win the British Open five times.
Tickets are now on sale, priced at $15 per day or $45 for a full tournament pass (four days), by visiting www.pncfathersonchallenge.com or by calling 844-434-3925. Active military and children age 15 years and younger receive complimentary admission with an accompanying adult.
Photos from the event will be at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com