ORLANDO, FLORIDA – Twenty-one time PGA TOUR winner Lanny Wadkins thought he was done with the exciting days of playing competitive golf. With six back surgeries under his belt and a second career as a broadcaster for Golf Channel’s Champions Tour coverage, the World Golf Hall-of-Famer and former U.S. Ryder Cup captain has typically used the PNC Father/Son Challenge to spend time some quality time with his sons.
That was, until the 2015 tournament.
“I haven’t stood over a putt that meant anything in a long, long time,” said Wadkins, who won the 1977 PGA Championship. “It was really neat.”
Lanny rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in regulation to set up a four-team playoff with Fred and Taylor Funk, Larry and Drew Nelson and Davis and Dru Love.
Tucker Wadkins, Lanny’s youngest son and playing partner, went on to hole a 40-foot eagle putt to win the tournament.
What was different about the 2015 edition? Possibly, lack of preparation.
“We weren’t really prepared,” joked Tucker, whose best finish alongside his dad was a tie for ninth in 2013. “Neither of us had been playing much golf, so we didn’t have any expectations. We had the whole family out and it was just a really relaxed week.”
As is common in golf, putting was the key, including Tucker’s final putt and Lanny’s 70-footer for birdie at four that sparked a final-round 62.
“It’s all about the putting,” said Tucker, “and last year we got the putter rolling.”
The Wadkins’ family will all be in Orlando again this week, with Lanny’s eldest son, Travis, caddying for his brother, Tucker, as he did last year. Of course, the Wadkins would love to defend their title, but say they aren’t putting any extra pressure on themselves.”
“Usually for a tournament, I would say there is pressure,” said Tucker, “but this week is just a fun week that you put the expectations aside.”
“I don’t know how a family affair could have turned out better,” added Lanny.
Maybe with a repeat?
Wadkins, Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd are three of the 13 World Golf Hall of Fame fathers who will return to the 2016 PNC Father/Son Challenge alongside their children.
Over the 19 years of the tournament, 24 World Golf Hall of Fame Members have played in the championship, averaging 67 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.
NBC Sports and Golf Channel will team up to provide eight hours of weekend coverage for the PNC Father/Son Challenge:
Friday, Dec.9: Pro-Am Special, airing at 4 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)
Saturday, Dec. 10: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET (Golf Channel) and 4-6 p.m. ET (NBC)
Sunday, Dec. 11: 2-3 p.m. ET (Golf Channel) and 3-6 p.m. ET (NBC)