There is a certain magic in going to work with your father – seeing the place he goes off to in the mornings and returns from at night. For some, their father’s office is a golf course, and for a lucky few, their fathers are playing in the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world.
Dru Love knew he wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps when, at 9 years old, he watched his father win The PLAYERS Championship in 2003. Davis Love III, a 21-time PGA TOUR champion, won that tournament by six shots.
“I would wake up early, follow him around all day, tag along and after watching him win that year, I thought ‘This is awesome, I want to do this,’ said Dru Love.
For Taylor Funk, son of eight-time PGA TOUR winner Fred Funk, it was the lifestyle of his childhood that led him to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Fred won The PLAYERS Championship in 2005.
“I enjoyed traveling growing up and watching my dad play in tournaments,” said Taylor, now 20 years old. “I was homeschooled so our family could stay together on the road. I enjoyed being on Tour and pictured my lifestyle that way as an adult.”
For the Love family and the Funk family, the fathers and sons have dreams of making golf a family business. Both Dru Love and Taylor Funk are currently playing collegiate golf and have aspirations to turn professional.
Dru and Davis will play in the PNC Father/Son Challenge for the seventh time Dec. 10-13, 2015. This will be the second appearance for Team Funk. Fred and Taylor played in 2012 and tied for sixth.
The PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando, Grande Lakes in Fla., in its 18th staging of the family-oriented event.
Dru and Davis won the event in 2012, when Dru was 18, and posted two runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2014.
Dru, who is currently a junior at the University of Alabama, has one more year of eligibility and then has plans to turn professional. Taylor is in his second year at the University of Texas.
Davis played for the University of North Carolina and Fred played for the University of Maryland. Dru grew up a big UNC fan but the program at Alabama just called his name. Taylor was always a Texas fan growing up because his mom and relatives from his mom’s side of the family were all Longhorns.
Just a few weeks ago, on Thursday, Nov. 19, Dru and Davis got to play together in Dru’s first-ever PGA TOUR event at The RSM Classic in Sea Island, Ga. Dru had to qualify for the sponsor’s exemption in the tournament that his dad hosts.
“Dru earned that spot,” said Davis. “He won the qualifier by three and that gave him confidence. And he handled himself really well that week with all the media requests. We both birdied the first hole and I kept thinking to myself that no other PGA TOUR player has ever played with his son in his first-ever PGA TOUR event.”
The Father-Son duo tied after the first round with rounds of an even-par 70.
“Having the experience of watching my dad in competitive mode was really great,” said Dru. “I was hitting balls warming up on the range and my dad came and hit balls next to be. He told me to relax, play well and it was really cool to see my dad next to me in competitive mode.”
Taylor was 17 when he and his dad played the PNC Father/Son Challenge in 2012. He says he’s a much different player now than he was three years ago. His game has improved immensely, he’s grown taller and has put on muscle. With his drive being much longer now than three years ago, and with the scramble format, Taylor is excited to see how their team will match up against the other competitors.
“I watched the tournament on TV the last few years and I wished we were there,” said Taylor. “I can’t wait to play again. It was a blast the last time. I grew up with a lot of the other sons. Connor Jansen, Thomas Lehman. We all knew each other traveling to tournaments.”
Both Dru and Taylor have had to re-arrange some college finals and class assignments, but both say their college professors are understanding of the amazing opportunity to play alongside some of the game’s greatest players of all time.
“One of the tournaments that stands out the most to me is when my dad and I played with Greg Norman in 2008,” says Dru. “I was 14 years old, we were playing with Norman and I made some big putts coming down the stretch. We were way behind after the first round but we finished second.”
For both Fred and Davis, it’s a highlight in the year to spend a week with their sons on the golf course. With both boys being away at college, they spend holidays together, but the Father Son is a week where the fathers can have a front-row seat to watch their sons’ accomplishments and talents.
“It’s something special to play in this tournament,” said Fred.
Davis said “Some of us dads jokingly call it the fifth major because we view it as such an honor to play. It’s a great week for the whole family.”
For professionals and sons alike the PNC Father/Son Challenge is special for all parties. For the sons aspiring to play the PGA TOUR, there could not be a better experience than playing PNC Father/Son Challenge where you see the games’ greats in action and at the same time learn valuable life lessons from Dad.