Two years on from their team debut Paddy Harrington reckons he and his triple Major winning father can walk off with the spoils of victory in today’s commencing PNC Father and Son Challenge in Orlando.
It is the 22nd staging of the event which was first contested in 1995 and brings together Major Champions and their siblings.
Heading this year’s field again is 18-time Major winning Jack Nicklaus who has returned to tee-up alongside his 17-year old grandson, GT, for a third consecutive year.
Nicklaus along with Harrington and fellow Irishman Darren Clarke, who will again team with son, Tyrone, are among 20 Major Champions in the field and vying for the Willie Park Trophy and the Grands Lakes Resort course in Orlando.
Prolific winning women’s Major winner, Annika Sorenstam will break new ground this year as she becomes the first female champion to compete, teeing-up alongside her father Tom.
Two years ago, Harrington and then 13-year old Paddy walked off the final green of the 54-hole three-day event arms around each other in combining for a closing 66 and a share of 16th place in the 20-team tournament.
It was the first time the Harrington’s had contested the event and there waiting for them behind the last green was wife and mum Caroline and then 10-year old brother, Cairan.
The Harrington’s could not return last year as Paddy was undertaking his State examinations but there’s no stopping twelve months on.
“I had a brilliant time before and just really, really enjoyed it so really looking forward to again teeing-up,” said Paddy.
“I played a lot of golf leading up my first-time teeing-up in the Father-and-Son which was fun.
“The good thing this year is that my golf has improved so much and I feel like I am striking the ball with a lot more consistency than on my first visit to Orlando.”
Two years ago, Paddy did not have a handicap and there was plenty of attention to the teenager’s game by Ronan Flood, Harrington’s long-time regular caddy, who spent plenty of time working with Paddy on the Orlando practice range.
Paddy tees-up this week with an official handicap of 23.
“Ronan was great when we went out two years ago and he was giving me plenty of encouragement while dad’s been again so helpful this time around,” said Paddy.
“If there was one piece of advice that stands out it is regard to expectations. I have a lot of expectations on myself and how I have been playing but then that can really hurt your game.
“It’s all about the mind. So, if I go out there and have expectations that I should be playing like ‘this’ and I hit a shot that I would not normally hit and it’s not gone well and I am disappointed in myself, then that’s going to hurt the rest of my game.
“So, not having any expectations and not putting any pressure on myself then I should be able to play well and that sort of advice from dad has really helped prepare me for this week.”
And Paddy was asked is the weight of expectation tougher given the stature of his father, Padraig on golf’s world stage than say if his father was not the champion golfer he is?
“There’s nothing that I find really difficult being one of his sons,” said Paddy.
“Even when I am at school nobody brings-up the fact that Padraig is my father and I am just treated like another student, and that’s nice because I don’t want people to be saying: ‘Oh, there’s Padraig Harrington’s son’.
“So, it’s been great in that regard and it allows me also to be myself,”
TEE TIMES – Irish time
1.10pm – Darren and Tyrone Clarke
1.50pm – Padraig and Paddy Harrington