ORLANDO, Florida – The “Sunshine State” has its fair share of professional golf tournaments throughout the year, but only one of them brings together both PGA and LPGA Professionals, playing with their families in the annual PNC Championship. This unique event features a 36-hole scramble format and has been hosted for the last 12 years by the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, at Grande Lakes.
The course was designed by Greg Norman, who worked closely with the natural habitat to create challenging greens, wide fairways, and well-placed hazards. This 18-hole Par 72 championship course is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
With only 20 teams competing, players past and present have shown unprecedented interest in being part of an event that reflects the world class talent found at this inclusive family championship. It also showcases the special bonds that the love of golf creates, including family pride, and the bragging rights that go along with a win.
The PNC Championship has continued to evolve since the inaugural tournament in 1995, when ten major winners gathered with their sons. This year’s tournament featured 20 major champions and a number of legendary players with 62 Major Titles between them spanning from 1959 to 2023.
The prize purse for the 2023 PNC Championship remained the same as last year, $1.085 million. The winning team received $200,000 while the second-place team received $80,000 and the third-place team received $57,250. The lowest amount a team could receive was $40,000.
SATURDAY DAY 1
Low hanging clouds and a threatening forecast for heavy rains throughout the day moved Saturday’s tee times to 7:30 a.m. with Team Langer and Team Cink teeing off on the 1st tee, while Team O’Meara and Team Kuchar had the honors on the 10th tee.
There were 5 foursomes playing off of split tees and carts were being used by everyone. In spite of the constant drizzle and pending forecast, it didn’t seem to deter the large number of spectators who were braving the weather to see their favorite players or teams.
Playing from the longest tees this weekend at 7,106 yards were Stewart Cink, David Duval, Padraig Harrington, Matt Kuchar, Justin Leonard, Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods. Playing the shortest tees at 5,499 yards were Will McGee (Annika Sorrenstam’s son) and Lee Trevino. The rest of the field were playing the 2 sets of tees between them.
Wet fairways and greens didn’t stop Team Kuchar (Matt and son Cameron) from finishing first with a round of 57 (-15) the largest 18-hole lead in PNC Championship history. The score was one off the tournament record of 56, shot by Davis Love III and his son, Dru, in 2018.
On finishing 15-under and one shot shy of the 18-hole record Matt Kuchar said, “To get off to a good start was an awfully good feeling and then we kept it going. I think between, you know, his (Cameron) great play, his great putting, and we kind of just really ham-and-egged it really well out there today,” said Kutcher afer finishing 15-under and one shot shy of the 18-hole record.
Four teams started Sunday’s final round three shots back at 12-under 60: Team Langer (Bernhard and son Jason), Team Goosen (Retief and son Leo), Defending Champions-Team Singh (Vijay and son Qass) and Team Duval (David and son Brady).
SUNDAY DAY 2
The morning tee times found a wet course after a soaking night of rain. The rain subsided leaving behind a forecast calling for sustained winds between 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph possible.
The 9:20 a.m. tee time saw the foursome of Team Price (-4) and Team Trevino (-3) starting off the day. Team Kuchar (-15) and Team Langer (-12) were the last foursome to tee off at 11:17 a.m. All 10 foursomes started from the 1st tee today without the use of carts.
As players made their way through the front nine, the sustained westerly winds quickly dried the putting surfaces and most of the fairways. Leading to some lower-than-expected scores in the early going. Team Langer (-20) seemed to have found the magic formula as they birdied 8 of the first 9 holes.
The top of the Leaderboard looked like this when the final foursome reached the 10th tee. First, Team Langer -20 (10th), 2nd Team Duval -17 (11th), Tied for 3rd Team Singh -16 (10th), Team Goosen -16 (10th) and Team Kuchar -16 (10th).
Musical chairs on the back nine saw teams switching places on the Leaderboard on almost every hole. The only problem was that Team Langer refused to let anyone come close as they continued to maintain a safe distance between the 2nd place team throughout the final nine holes.
Bernard Langer and his son Jason (-25) won the 2023 PNC Championships and the $200,000 1st place check. The win was Bernard’s 5th PNC Championship tying him with Raymond Floyd for the most wins in the tournament’s history. David Duval and his son Brady (-23) captured second along with a check for $80,000. Finishing in 3rd place was last year’s Champions, Vijay Singh and his son Qass (-22). They will be splitting a check for $57,250.
Cara Banks from NBC Sports asked Bernard after today’s awards ceremony, “You hold the most wins on the PGA Tour Champions now with 46, you already had the most belts in this great championship, but now you’ve added another. What was it about today’s 7 under through seven and making the turned at 8 under that was just so fabulous for your team?”
Bernard responded, “Just enjoying watching my son make putt after putt and great shot after great shot. It was like a dream. It was just incredible. I’ve seen a lot of great golf in my life but watching him today was unbelievable for somebody that only plays once every two weeks to come out here in these conditions and under these circumstances.”