5 Things: Loves lead Father/Son in event's return
Photos: A day with Arnie & Jack in Orlando
Check out images from Saturday's first round at the Father/Son Challenge, highlighted by the pairing of legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
Photos: Father-Son Challenge, First round
Check out images from the first round at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando.
ORLANDO, Fla. – After a three-year hiatus, the Father/Son Challenge made its return Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.
And what a return it was.
Davis Love III and his son Dru took the first-round lead with a 12-under 60. They lead two other groups – Fred and Taylor Funk, and Mark and Shaun O’Meara – by a shot, and five other pairs by two shots.
Two father-daughter groups – Bernhard and Christina Langer and Fuzzy and Gretchen Zoeller – shot 62 and 65, respectively.
And of course Nicklaus and Palmer were paired together again. Nicklaus teed off with his son Gary, and Palmer was paired with his grandson Will Wears in a group that was filled with friendly banter, plenty of laughs, and some good golf shots, too.
Here are 5 Things from the first of two rounds at the Father/Son Challenge in Orlando:
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1. THE POWER OF LOVE: Davis Love III and his son, Dru, entered their fourth Father/Son Challenge with high expectations – both from others and from themselves, as well.
“Yeah, everybody kept saying, ‘You guys are the favorites,’ ” Love III said.
And there was plenty to love about the duo’s performance Saturday. The Loves combined to shoot 12-under 60 to take a one-shot lead over Fred and Taylor Funk, and Mark and Shaun O’Meara.
“I think this is completely different than when we played in it the other three times,” Love III said. “There’s a lot of teams that can shoot a low score any day, and the course is just sitting there for you.”
The Loves got off to a good start at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, which played favorably, with eight teams shooting 10 under or better thanks to calm conditions and soft greens. They birdied the first three holes, seven of their first nine and finished with five in their last six.
“I felt like we had to birdie every hole,” Love III said.
The Loves benefited from the luxury of having two long hitters off the tee – Love III was No. 39 in driving distance on the PGA Tour this past season (296.3 yards). They actually used a lot of the elder Love’s drives while the younger Love came through with some close approach shots, including one on No. 2, where he stuck it to a few feet. That more than made up for the rare par, but the Loves still think they left some birdies out on the course.
“We had a lot of wedges in our hands and missed the greens,” said Dru Love, a freshman at Alabama. “It's hard to ask more of 12 under, but definitely could have been better.”
Love III said Thursday that a goal of his is to the make captain Tom Watson’s 2014 Ryder Cup team. Too bad there aren’t any Ryder Cup points to be handed out after Sunday’s final round.
Said Love III, jokingly: “Well, if I keep doing well in team events, he’ll keep his eye on me.”
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2. HIS OWN BRAND: Normally it’s the fathers and grandfathers who enter this event a little rusty. But Shaun O’Meara hasn’t played a lot of golf, either, over the past year and a half.
Since graduating from UC Irvine, the younger O’Meara has spent most of his time promoting his new clothing line, Duvin, which he started with three friends. They have their clothing in about 10 stores in Florida and one in Puerto Rico, as well as online at duvindesign.com.
“It’s like a surf-lifestyle brand,” Shaun O’Meara said. “So just been pushing that, which is a dream to me because it's been what I've wanted to do since I was real young. I'm having a great time with it.”
For someone who hasn’t had a lot of time to play golf – he estimates he has played about 20 rounds since graduating in the spring of 2011 – Shaun O’Meara didn’t look to be off his game Saturday. The pair closed especially strong, with birdies on five of their last six holes, to finish at 11-under 61.
“Fortunately Shaun is a good driver of the ball,” Mark O’Meara said. “I thought today he hit some nice wedge shots, too, which has not been sometimes his forte.”
Said Shaun O’Meara of his dad: “The way that he putted today was unreal.”
The O’Mearas entered the day with a goal of shooting 10 under. They surpassed that, but there’s still some work to do if you ask the eldest of the duo.
“(Shaun) made some putts early and probably didn't putt as well as he would like to, but he's going to go to the putting green now and work until dark tonight and work on his putting and forget about selling Duvin shirts right now, or hats,” Mark O’Meara said. “He needs to roll the rock a little bit better tomorrow and take some more pressure off the old man.”
Dad also has a little advice for his son’s business.
“I told him, in life you get out of it what you put into it,” Mark O’Meara said. “Even then, sometimes it's not fair and you may not make it. But you'll look back, no matter what happens, and if you get out there and work really, really hard and get a couple good breaks, you can make it.
“Nobody can stop you. Only yourself.”
Shaun O’Meara hopes Duvin can break into the golf-apparel business soon. His dad is just hoping to get some free stuff.
“Maybe Christmas I'll get a free hat,” Mark O’Meara said.
“Maybe,” Shaun O’Meara said. “I’ll give it to you at wholesale price.”
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3. LATE ADDITION: Fred Funk always has wanted to play with his son, Taylor, in the Father/Son Challenge.
And after Dave Stockton and Dave Stockton Jr. withdrew because of a death in the family, Funk, who is eligible because he’s a former Players Championship winner, received an invitation.
“It's sad that's the way we got in,” said Funk, who found out Wednesday morning that he and Taylor were going to play in the event. “And after we got in it, it was just a dream come true for me to play with my son in this thing.”
Funk originally was scheduled to shoot some commercials for his sponsor, Mitsubishi, on Thursday and Friday in Orlando. But he made some arrangements, including having Dave Stockton Jr. play in Friday’s pro-am instead of him so that he could honor his sponsor commitment.
“We had to juggle a lot of balls to get this thing to work,” Funk said.
Funk, who lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., said he didn’t see the course until Thursday while his son saw it Thursday and again Friday. But even with the unfamiliarity – the pair had never played in a competitive round together, either – the Funks managed to do pretty well, shooting 11-under 61.
“I was just trying to let him freewheel it,” Funk said. “If he hits a bad one, then I should be able to suck it up with all my years of experience and hit some good shots.”
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4. ANOTHER TEST: Daniel Trevino, who is a freshman at USC, had to make some changes to his final-exam schedule in order to play with his dad, Lee, this weekend.
After moving around some of his tests – he ended up taking three on Tuesday and another Wednesday morning – Daniel was able to catch a flight to Orlando on Wednesday.
“I had to cram really hard, so I’m exhausted,” Daniel Trevino said. “But I love this event. Especially after what happened yesterday (with the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.), you realize how important doing these types of things with your parents is.”
Daniel Trevino has one more test Monday and then he’ll fly back home for winter break. He’s not competing with the Trojans golf team this year, but plans to try out for the team in the fall. “I wanted to have the best time I possibly can,” Daniel said. “Next year we’re going to buckle down.”
Daniel Trevino, who grew up playing mainly lacrosse, didn’t start really picking up golf until his senior year of high school when Lee starting teaching him the tools of the trade. His dad said Daniel still struggles with his short game – “Because he never grew up with it,” Lee Trevino said – but his play tee-to-green on Saturday helped the pair post a 3-under 69.
“I could never be more proud of the kid than I was today,” Lee Trevino said. “He absolutely carried me the whole way. . . . I let him down today.”
Lee Trevino hopes things will turn around on Sunday.
“You can play good and score very poorly, and then you’ll come back and play very poorly and score very well,” he said. “Hopefully that’s the case tomorrow.”
And that’s another good lesson he can teach his son.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: The competitors wore black ribbons on Saturday to honor the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. . . . The tournament includes two father-daughter duos, and both fared well in the first round. Bernhard Langer and his daughter, Christina, shot 10-under 62, while Fuzzy Zoeller and his daughter, Gretchen, finished with a 65. . . . Sam Elkington, at 15 the youngest competitor in the tournament, teamed up with dad Steve to shoot 6-under 66.