Darren Clarke and his eldest son, Tyrone have plenty to do to secure, at least, a top-three finish on their debut in the PNC Father and Son Challenge in Orlando.
The Clarke’s combined to post a five-under par 67 on the opening day under inclement skies and intermittent rain on the Ritz-Carton Grand Lakes course while fellow former Open winner, John Daly and his son, Little John tore-up the resort course with a 13-birdie haul in their score of 59. The first occasion a 59 has been produced in the first round.
“It was just one of those days. We hit pretty much every fairway. We didn’t get ourselves in any trouble,” said Daly.
“After the third hole, Little John was putting good and he said I should go first to give him the line. I just made everything. It was a lot of fun”.
Now 15 years old, Little John is already beginning to fill his Father’s shoes, ramping up his driving distance by as much as 25 yards compared to last year.
Complimenting his son’s game, John added, “His game is way ahead of mine, if I hit a bad shot, I’m not worried about him hitting a good one.”
Rolling back the years, only two shots adrift at 11-under par sharing third place after an opening 61 is the team of Jack Nicklaus and grandson, GT, with Team Nicklaus, firing their second lowest in 16 previous appearances. Only once before has he gone lower, in 1999 with son, Gary, where they captured the title.
Speaking about the day, Jack, was flattering about his grandson’s performance, “GT drove the ball beautifully, his iron game was good, we both putted well, that’s the combination you’ve got to do.”
At 78 years old, Nicklaus hasn’t been within five shots of the lead in each of the last five years but proved his worth on the greens, making four 10-15 foot putts. He even contributed to their eagle on the third hole.
“On the third hole we actually used my drive, I was three yards past GT,” said Jack smiling.
“You see, they’ve got me up far enough that we have an opportunity to use my ball. He knocked it on the green to about 18ft and knocked the putt in. I didn’t even have to putt.”
The eagle was one of only two on a rain affected day at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club.
No such lofty heights for Clarke and son, Tyrone combining for five birdies but lying in a share of 17th place in the 20-player team event.
Tied at the bottom of the board are the Norman’s and Langer’s with four-under par 68s.