Padraig Harrington and 14-year old son, Paddy have their work cut out after posting a combined five-under par 67 on day one of the two-day PNC Father-and-Son Challenge in Orlando.
The Harrington’s ended their debut in the ‘better-ball’ event sharing 15th place in the 20 two-man team field.
Double Major winning Angel Cabrera and son Angel Cabrera Jr, contesting the event for the first occasion, posted a combined 13-under par 59 to lead by a shot in the ideal warm and calm conditions on the Grande Lakes course.
Fellow double Major winning Mark O’Meara,with bearded son Shaun as his partner, were next best with a 60 and one clear of defending champion, David Duval and stepson Nick Karavites while double Masters winning Bernhard Langer and youngest son, Jason are also tied third with a 11-under 61.
Harrington and 14-year old Paddy were grouped with the Australian duo of double Open winning, Greg Norman and his 33-year old Shark Wake Park business son, Gregory Norman Jr.
The Harrington’s got off to a great start with three birdies in their opening five holes that included birdies at the second, third and fifth holes before posting four straight pars.
They moved to four-under when Harrington birdied the par-4 10th hole.
Paddy then played his best hole of the round, the 353-yard par-4 13th hole first playing a superb drive off the forward tees.
It led Norman, who had partnered Harrington over the final round of Harrington’s 2008 Open Championship victory, to remark: “You stud, Paddy.”
However, the pair elected to go with Harrington’s drive with Paddy upstaging his more illustrious golfing father in putting the team’s second shot to some 10-feet and then holing the putt to take the team to five-under.
But a double bogey ‘6’ at the par-4 15th hole checked the Harrington’s progress and sent them back to three-under.
The Harrington’s found their way to the par-5 18th with Paddy finding the same fairway bunker Norman had found down the right side but thankfully Harrington was on the fairway.
Harrington then found a greenside bunker with his second only for Paddy to step into the bunker and thin his shot through the green and last seen headed in the direction of the scorer’s hut.
Thankfully, his father splashed out to some 10-feet from where they two-putted for a seventh birdie of their round and a combined five-under 67.
“It was enjoyable. It was nerve-wracking and overall a decent day’s golf,” said Harrington.
“We did nicely and if it had of been our day we could have been a few better. An errant shot at 15 was a bit costly after being on the fairway with our drives. But then it’s Paddy’s first score ever in the sixties.”
The all-Ireland duo, just as Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry had done last week at the QBE Shootout, teed-off in similar head-to-toe clothing except Paddy does not wear a cap.
And there was the bizarre sight of some 100 autograph hunters gathered behind a temporary enclosure near the clubhouse wanting Paddy’s autograph on commemorative tournament 18th hole flags just as much as his triple Major winning father.
“I found the front-nine so enjoyable for myself as I managed to contribute a couple of times,” he said. “My best hole was the 13th and that was that was the highlight as I also hit a great pitch shot and holed the putt.”
“It would be nice if I can manage a hole-in-one and i asked someone if there is any alligators in the lakes around the course because if do get a hole-in-one I would love to dive into the lake.”
“I think also it would be really fun to do this for a living”
Paddy’s response prompted his father to chime-in: “Do yah? Have I not taught you anything.”
And before heading to a late lunch, the Harrington’s spoke of their delight in playing alongside the Norman’s.
“Greg was great and it was good to catch-up with him again and learn what he’s been up to since we last were partnered,” said Harrington.
“Both he and his son were very good to play with.