Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, and Greg Norman headline a field full of golf’s biggest names at the 20th PNC Father/Son Challenge this weekend, when the tournament returns to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes. Twenty of the game’s greats will tee it up alongside sons, grandsons and, in one case, a father.
Television coverage begins Friday on Golf Channel with a Pro-Am recap from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. ET. Competition coverage is Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET on Golf Channel, and 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. ET on NBC. Final-round coverage Sunday is from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Golf Channel and 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. ET on NBC. The broadcast team will include Steve Sands (play-by-play) and Peter Jacobsen (lead analyst), along with David Feherty (tower analyst). Notah Begay and Jim Mackay will both serve as on-course reporters, while Jimmy Roberts will conduct interviews with those in the field.
Jack and 15-year-old grandson Gary “GT” Nicklaus, Jr. tee off at 10:36 a.m. ET, and will be grouped with the team of Lee Trevino and son Daniel. The only previous competitor to play alongside a grandson was Arnold Palmer, who was joined by both Sam Saunders (2003-08) and Will Wears (2012).
The 2017 tournament field boasts 499 victories across the PGA TOUR, European Tour and PGA TOUR Champions, and 60 major championships—of which Nicklaus has the Bear’s share, with a record 18 professional majors. Including Nicklaus, there are 10 World Golf Hall of Fame members in the field this weekend.
Jack and GT snuck in a practice round Saturday at Banyan Cay Resort & Golf in West Palm Beach ahead of their trip to Orlando. Banyan Cay is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course and when the Golden Bear christened the course last month with a ceremonial tee shot, it became his 300th golf course design worldwide.
“I’m excited to play in the Father/Son with GT, because he has never really played an event of this level before,” Jack Nicklaus said. “He has played various junior events throughout the years, but GT is really just learning to play. It’s nice that his dad is going to caddie for him, as Gary has played in this event many times with me. In fact, we won the Father/Son in 1999, just before Gary joined the PGA TOUR.
“I’ve got one out of 22 grandchildren that plays golf seriously or competitively, and we’re not going to let him get away.”
The Golden Bear had alternated between sons Jack II and Gary throughout the history of the Father/Son. Prior to making his 16th appearance in the event this year, Jack had a conversation with tournament organizers about the value in creating a new yardage for those competitors over the age of 70. The tournament listened, and this weekend, viewers will see the professionals playing the Grande Lakes course at 6,885 yards, the high school-aged competitors at 6,464 yards, and the “Legends” (70+) at 6,089 yards.
“We’ll have a good time,” Jack added. “They changed the tees a little bit for us. I finally went to Alastair Johnston (Vice Chairman of IMG, which co-founded and produces the event with NBC Sports), and kidded, ‘Alastair, nobody has played one of my tee shots in four years. Let some of us old guys enjoy being part of it. I’ll have some fun playing from these new yardages! And we’ll do alright—we’ll be competitive.”
Nicklaus continued, “GT is a big kid and has the potential to be a very talented player. He is already a nice player, and his game should only get better as time goes on. So only time will tell whether he will be and wants to be a really good player. For now, I just want him to enjoy this experience, just as I will enjoy it. Oh, and guess whose tee shot we’ll be playing most of the time?”
To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, players must have won a major championship or The Players Championship. Their partner must not hold a PGA TOUR card.
Padraig Harrington and his son, Paddy, are newcomers to this year’s tournament field, while Greg Norman and his son, Greg, Jr., and Tom Kite and his son, David, each return to the event for the first time since 2008. Justin Leonard will break new ground at this year’s tournament, becoming the first competitor to play with his father. Leonard, the 1997 Open Champion, will tee it up with his dad, Larry.
“As we celebrate the 20th playing of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, we are thrilled to watch the evolution of the tournament, which has seen sons, grandsons, daughters and, now, fathers, step inside the ropes,” Johnston said. “Our unique format highlights the impact that golf can have on the relationship between parent and child, and provides us a front row seat to watch the legends of the game celebrate family and create lasting memories.”
“It is pretty special to have the opportunity to play with my grandson, GT,” Nicklaus said. “I remember fondly watching my friend Arnold when he played the Father/Son with his grandsons, Sam and then Will, and how meaningful it was for him. It’s been special for me to play in the Father/Son with all of my boys, and now all of a sudden, I am able to play with a grandson. I feel very fortunate.”
Over the 19 years of the tournament, 24 World Golf Hall of Fame Members have played in the championship, averaging 66 percent of the professional field each year. The winning team of the two-day, 36-hole scramble receives the Willie Park Trophy, in memory of the father and son British Open champions Willie Park Sr. and Willie Park Jr. This year’s purse is $1,085,000.
Last year, David Duval and his stepson, Nick Karavites, won the PNC Father/Son by one shot over the teams led by major champions Stewart Cink, Retief Goosen and Fred Funk.
“The PNC Father/Son Challenge is a unique, entertaining event that the participants really enjoy, allowing them a great opportunity to spend quality time together as teammates in a great setting at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club,” said Andy Pazder, Chief Tournament and Competitions Officer for the PGA TOUR. “It also reflects what a family game golf truly is. What’s particularly interesting about this year’s event is that Justin Leonard will become the first PGA TOUR member to play not as a father, but as a son, which will be fun to see.”
Tickets are priced at $15 per day or $45 for a full tournament pass (four days), and can be purchased at pncfathersonchallenge.com or by calling (920) 632-8464. Active military receive complimentary admission, as do children, age 15 years and younger, with an accompanying adult.
2017 PNC Father/Son Challenge Field (bold denotes WGHOF)
- Stewart Cink/Reagan Cink
- John Daly/Little John Daly
- David Duval/Nick Karavites
- Nick Faldo/Matthew Faldo
- Retief Goosen/Leo Goosen
- Padraig Harrington/Paddy Harrington
- Lee Janzen/Connor Janzen
- Tom Kite/David Kite
- Bernhard Langer/Jason Langer
- Tom Lehman/Thomas Lehman
- Justin Leonard/Larry Leonard (dad)
- Jack Nicklaus/Gary Nicklaus, Jr.
- Greg Norman/Greg Norman, Jr.
- Mark O’Meara/Shaun O’Meara
- Jerry Pate/Wesley Pate
- Nick Price/Greg Price
- Vijay Singh/Qass Singh
- Curtis Strange/Tom Strange
- Lee Trevino/Daniel Trevino
- Lanny Wadkins/Tucker Wadkins
Past Champions of the Father/Son Challenge
1995 – Raymond Floyd and Raymond Floyd Jr.
1996 – Raymond Floyd and Raymond Floyd Jr.
1997 – Raymond Floyd and Raymond Floyd Jr.
1998 – Bob Charles and David Charles
1999 – Jack Nicklaus and Gary Nicklaus
2000 – Raymond Floyd and Robert Floyd
2001 – Raymond Floyd and Robert Floyd
2002 – Craig Stadler and Kevin Stadler
2003 – Hale Irwin and Steve Irwin
2004 – Larry Nelson and Drew Nelson
2005 – Bernhard Langer and Stefan Langer
2006 – Bernhard Langer and Stefan Langer
2007 – Larry Nelson and Josh Nelson
2008 – Larry Nelson and Drew Nelson
2012 – Davis Love III and Davis “Dru” Love IV
2013 – Stewart Cink and Connor Cink
2014 – Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer
2015 – Lanny Wadkins and Tucker Wadkins
2016 – David Duval and Nick Karavites
The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.