Christmas comes early for the kids at PNC Championship who call it the best week of the year

Christmas comes early for the kids at PNC Championship who call it the best week of the year

ORLANDO — With Paddy Harrington in the midst of college exams back home in Ireland, Ciaran Harrington took his older brother’s place at the 2023 PNC Championship. Six weeks removed from breaking his left leg playing high school rugby, 15-year-old Ciaran joined his father Padraig – in his first competitive round – at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in front of thousands of fans on live television. Ciaran found that he hit his best shots in front of packed grandstands, when he could feel his stomach in his throat.

“You know, it was always going to be a bit of a push to get him ready for this,” said Padraig, “and then when he broke his leg, it was like he’s had 10 days of a crash course in how to play golf. And he’s done brilliant.”

Padraig Harrington pictured with his son Ciaran at the PNC Championship at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on December 14, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

This year’s PNC field featured 11 former world No. 1s, nine World Golf Hall of Fame members and eight Ryder Cup captains. The field of 20 teams – one of the most sought-after invitations in golf – combined for 62 major championship titles.

Lee Trevino, 84, has teed it up in all 26 editions of the event, while 12-year-old Will McGee, the youngest in the field, made his second appearance with mom Annika Sorenstam. McGee cried down most of the 18th hole just thinking about the fact that he’d have to wait a whole year to do this again.

There’s so much to enjoy about the PNC. Pros smile more this week inside the ropes than they do all year. It’s a chance to talk about something other than the weekly grind. In fact, it’s often a pro’s favorite subject: family.

There were seven teenagers in this year’s field, plus 12-year-old Will. Tiger Woods’ son Charlie, of course, generated the most buzz for a fourth consecutive year, but there were plenty of worthy storylines in rain-soaked central Florida.

Cameron Kuchar, 16, has been holding a golf club since he was in diapers and one day dreams of winning the Masters. He plays on the South Florida PGA Junior Medalist Tour with Charlie and Justin Leonard’s son, Luke, who was also in the field.

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