For a man who has seen it all in the golf world, two-time U.S. Open champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member Curtis Strange has a rather profound way of describing the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
“It’s unlike anything else we’re able to do as golfers,” he says, when asked about the tournament.
That’s a tall compliment from the major champion and 2002 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain, but by removing “golfer” as Strange’s title and inserting “Dad,” the praise is better understood.
Strange returns this winter for his seventh-career appearance at the PNC Father/Son Challenge, Dec. 11-14, 2014, at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando, Grande Lakes in Florida. For the sixth time, he will team up with his son, Tom, who played collegiate golf at North Carolina State University. His other son, David, will caddy for Tom as part of Team Strange.
“In my case, I have both my boys out there – one playing, one caddying – and I get to spend four hours with them inside the ropes,” said Strange, who will also be joined in Orlando by his wife, Sarah, two daughter-in-laws and two grandsons. “They get to see what I’ve done my entire career. I also get to see how they react to the same situations. I think it helps us understand each other better as people and as competitors.”
Tom, who plays actively on the amateur circuit around his home in North Carolina, appreciates the opportunity to see his father in “game mode.”
“(David and I) caddied for him over the years, but caddying is different than playing,” Tom said. “As a playing partner, he relies on us to talk through stuff. What I get the most out of it is the way that he – and really all our playing partners – approach their shots. Maybe just talking about carrying a bunker or how to get to a back left pin. It’s second nature to them, but not to us.”
Curtis admits that the PNC Father/Son Challenge has helped him develop a deeper admiration for his son, Tom, who works as a traveling salesman for Peter Millar.
“The Father/Son is the one event where we can all share equal experiences both day and night,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise, but I just admire the fact that he has the nerve inside the ropes. I’ve been proud of the way he’s handled himself coming down the stretch and I can see how that relates to his day job.”
Team Strange has four top-five finishes at the PNC Father/Son Challenge, most recently tying for fifth in 2013.
The PNC Father/Son Challenge, held for 15 years from 1995-2008, made a return in 2012 with new title sponsor, The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
Television coverage of the PNC Father/Son Challenge will air on Golf Channel from 2-3 p.m. ET and NBC from 3-6 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 13 and Sunday, Dec. 14. The Golf Channel will also air a Pro-Am Special on Friday, Dec. 12.
Tickets are now on sale, priced at $15 per day or $45 for a full tournament pass (four days), by visitingwww.pncfathersonchallenge.com or by calling 407-272-7506. Children age 15 years and younger receive complimentary admission with an accompanying adult.
To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS in 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.