Golf’s Past, Present and Future on Display PNC Father/Son Challenge

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – Friday, December 14, 2018 – Eighteen-time major champion Jack Nicklaus returns to the PNC Father/Son Challenge for the 17th time this week and second consecutive season with his grandson, GT.

The elder Nicklaus admitted that he plans to rely on the 16-year-old to stay competitive in the 20-team field.

“He just needs his grandpa to give him some support,” he said. “He’s got to beat all the pros and then hope that I help him for one shot.”

The duo teamed up to finish 15th in 2017 with a score of 12-under-par.

“Last year, (the Father/Son) was my first taste of being inside the ropes,” GT said. “I walked away a better player because I learned how to zone in a little bit more. This year, I think I have evolved as a player. I’ve played a lot more golf in preparation. Last year was an experience. This year, I’m more out there to win it.”

Grandpa approved.

“Good attitude,” Nicklaus said with a laugh.

Following his tournament debut last year, GT went on to make headlines with a hole-in-one at the Augusta National Par-3 Contest, where he caddied for his grandpa. He also qualified for the state golf tournament in Florida as a sophomore at Oxbridge Academy.

To prepare for this year’s Father/Son, Grandpa Jack had a few questions for GT.

“Are you going to drive it straight,” he asked. “Are you going to putt it good? Are you going to hit some good irons?”

“Yes,” GT replied.

“OK, then we’re ready,” Nicklaus said.

In contrast to one of golf’s most famous champions, American Ryder Cup Captain, Jim Furyk, joins the stellar field for his first PNC Father/Son Challenge appearance with his long-time coach and Father, Mike.

As one of only two Son / Father pairings in the field, the man commonly known as Mr 58 would have competed last year if not for an injury that derailed his plans.

A true golfing partnership that’s been going strong for more than 30 years, Mike has coached his son for the entirety of his playing career, seeing him through the junior ranks at their local club to becoming a Major champion before more recently, leading Team USA as the 2018 Ryder Cup Captain.

Speaking about what the event means to him, Jim, admitted to not chasing a score this weekend.

“We started playing together when I was 12 and I’m looking forward to going out there and having some fun with my Dad. We’ll hit some good shots, some bad shots but I really just want him to relax and have some fun. The score is secondary.”

Asked on his preparation for the week, Mike, who’s been a club professional for more than 50 years commented, “I’m a part-time golfer, full-time fisherman these days. I was in Arizona fishing for 6-7 months and hadn’t hit a ball when Jim rang me a said, hey, let’s go play the Father/Son.”

“I said, you’re making me go back to work, so since then, I’ve been grinding, I really have.”

Win or lose, the iconic Jim Furyk swing will never change, when questioned on why they never tweaked it, Mike’s response was simple, “It didn’t need changing, it’s natural. All the great players of the past had different swings.”

Fellow debutants, Matt and Peter Kuchar, who are paired together with Team Furyk at 10:48 tomorrow, have also shared considerable success together on course prior to tomorrow’s first round.

Optimistic from their track record together, Matt captured the 1997 U.S. Amateur with Peter by his side before going on to win low amateur honors at The Masters and The U.S Open in 1998.

Commenting on their strong bond, Peter said, “The success we had as a team is unparalleled. A few years ago he asked me to go down to Fiji and caddie for him and we won that too. We’ve got a good track record together.”

A true family affair, Matt’s 11 year old son, Cameron, is on the bag this week to keep his Grandfather on his toes and fighting for his spot.

‘I can tell you that my window is closing. Matt’s caddie is eyeing up my spot right now.”

Similarly to Team Furyk, Matt played down his team’s chances of picking up the coveted belts confessing, “we haven’t had much game planning but Pops has a nice advantage off the tee so hoping he’s dropping some bombs out there and from there, it would be nice to have two good looks at the hole.”

Tickets are now on sale, priced at $15 per day or $45 for a full tournament pass (four days), by visiting Active military and children age 15 years and younger receive complimentary admission with an accompanying adult.

NBC/Golf Channel will provide coverage of the PNC Father/Son Challenge. Dan Hicks will handle play-by-play duties alongside Peter Jacobsen in the booth. David Feherty, 2017 Father/Son participant Justin Leonhard, Notah Begay, Jim “Bones” Mackay and Steve Sands will round out the coverage team.

Airtimes are as follows:

Friday, December 14

5-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel – Pro-Am Show)

Saturday, December 15

11 a.m.-Noon ET (Live, Golf Channel)

2-3 p.m. ET (Encore replay, Golf Channel)

3-6 p.m. ET (Tape Delay, NBC)

Sunday, December 16

11 a.m.-Noon ET (Live, Golf Channel)

2-3 p.m. ET (Encore replay, Golf Channel)

3-6 p.m. ET (Tape Delay, NBC)

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

Photo Credit: Gabe Roux

Photo Credit: Gabe Roux