ORLANDO, Fla. – As a pro golfer Dave Stockton won 25 tournaments, including two major championships, during his career. But during the PNC Father/Son Challenge, his son Dave Jr. chose someone else for advice on the course.
“I brought my ace caddy with me this year,” he said, gesturing to his teenage son, Jake. “He brings lots of wisdom in his 14 years. We always have a blast together and he’s having fun playing the game. It reminds me of when I was a kid, caddying for my dad on the tour. This is a special week for both of us having Jake out there with me walking.”
Three generations were represented in one group at this year’s tournament as Dave Stockton, his son and grandson were together at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club in Orlando. To qualify, participants must have won either a major championship or Players Championship in their career. While the majority of partners in the event’s history have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen a daughter, grandson and even close family friends participate over the years.
“It truly is a special week and it’s one we mark on the calendar,” said Dave Jr., who is a golf instructor but also had two tournament wins as a professional. “I was caddying for my dad last year. He was playing with my brother, Ron.”
Jake added: “It’s pretty cool. I’m just having a blast out here with my dad, my grandpa and my Uncle Ronny.”
The Father/Son tournament was created in 1995 by IMG and NBC Sports. PNC became the title sponsor in 2012, bringing back the tournament that was held for 15 years from 1995-2008. The field competes in a scramble format over 36 holes for the $1 million prize purse and the Willie Park trophy, named after Willie Park, and his son Willie Park Jr., who won the British Open a combined five times.
Golf legend Lanny Wadkins and his son Tucker, a 23-year-old investor relations professional, figured out how to channel some family magic in a playoff victory to win the 2015 title.
Tucker, who played at the University of Arizona, holed a 40-foot eagle putt to win a four-team playoff. Team Wadkins, who trailed Vijay Singh and son Qass by two strokes after a first-round 61, shot 63 in the final round to enter the playoff at 20-under-par.
“Tucker hit a spectacular tee shot, one of the best he’s hit all week,” said father, Lanny, who won the 1977 PGA Championship to qualify for the tournament. “He hit 4-iron, I hit 5-wood… I got it a little closer. He made a 40-footer. I’ll remember what he did in making that putt.”
The week of activities also included the Father/Son Challenge Pro-Am featuring the professional field playing with invited guests and the various winners of PNC’s regional events held in St. Louis, Chicago, and Charlotte.
Two brothers, Russ and Greg "Woody" Russell, enjoyed a memorable round of golf with the Stocktons.
“It was fantastic," said Russ, a Charlotte, NC, resident who’s in dental practice sales.
You grow up watching these guys on TV and you think it’s a whole different world but they’re just like everybody else. We had a great time.
Faced with an opportunity to get tips from two pro golfers, Greg Russell, a Milwaukee resident who works in family health care, said it was better to just enjoy the time together.
“They can’t fix us. We didn’t even ask,” Greg said with a laugh. “My wife has a masters in psychology. That’s where I get my help.”
Community events also were a large part of the week. Golf clinics for women, young professionals and children were held throughout the week leading up to the tournament. Donation and volunteer events benefiting the Healthy Families Orange Program and local schoolchildren via Blessings in a Backpack also took place.
“Whether I’m playing or caddying, it’s just fun to spend the time with my dad,” Dave Stockton Jr. said. “We head back home at the end of the week and have a lot of good memories to take away.”
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