ORLANDO, Fla. — Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods traded text messages on the eve of the final round at the PNC Championship, their teams tied for the lead and in contention. Neither mentioned winning.
This was about Woods getting to play alongside 11-year-old son Charlie, watching him twirl the club after a good drive and yes, even deliver a fist pump in his red shirt on Sunday. For Thomas, it was about competing with his father Mike, a longtime club professional in Kentucky and the only coach he’s ever had.
Team Thomas birdied the opening seven holes and the father delivered a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that gave them a 15-under 57 in the scramble format and a one-shot victory over Vijay Singh and son Qass.
Thomas, who has multiple PGA Tour titles in each of his last four years, wasn’t about to compare this with with his PGA Championship, World Golf Championships or any other of his 13 tour victories. Even so, he called the PNC Championship “100 percent the most enjoyable.”
When his father holed the birdie putt, he said he knew there were 10 teams still on the course and it still felt as though the tournament was over.
“A part of you didn’t care who won,” he said. “We were here as father and son to enjoy a special moment.”
That’s what Alastair Johnston, the vice chairman at IMG, had in mind when he created this tournament 25 years ago. It started as the Father-Son Challenge. It since has changed into major champions and Players Championship winners competing with a family member — son, daughter, father-in-law, grandson.
The PNC Championship has the strongest waiting list in golf, and it’s always been that way. Newcomers to the field this year included Woods and Thomas, Bubba Watson and Mark Calcavecchia.
Calcavecchia played with his son Eric. When they finished, the former British Open champion who has been trying to get in the tournament for seven years was asked how it went.
“Nothing short of amazing,” Calcavecchia said. “I’m kind of sad it’s over. I feel like a little kid when the carnival leaves town.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.