HARTFORD, Conn. – With a nor’easter roaring up the East Coast, Joe LaCava and son Joe Jr. of Southbury had to be delighted they’re in Florida this weekend working in the same foursome in a true family affair.
Joe, a Newtown native, has been Tiger Woods’ caddie since 2011, and the younger LaCava will be carrying for Tiger’s 11-year-old son Charlie as they make their debut in the PNC Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando on Saturday and Sunday.
Tiger is making his first start since he tied for 38th in his Masters defense last month and is certain to enjoy competing with his son, who will be the youngest player in the history of the event, and being with his friend/caddie and his 22-year-old son, who is a senior at James Madison.
“About a month ago, Tiger approached me and said, ‘I’m thinking of playing the PNC Championship with Charlie,’ ” Joe Sr. told Golf Digest. “I was so jacked up. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ because I thought it was probably a year or two away.
“He was so excited. Charlie caught the golf bug this year. He’s been playing a ton of golf, practicing, working at it and was psyched to play. Tiger was kind enough to ask me to ask Joe to caddie for Charlie so we could have a father-son caddie duo and father-son player duo. So we’re going to have a good weekend.”
While Joe Jr. hasn’t had a lot of experience as a caddie, he is a decent golfer in his own right. The pair won the 2019 Connecticut State Golf Association Father-Son Net Tournament and enjoy getting out on the links together.
“He’s decent at reading the greens so maybe he’ll get in there for a few looks this week,” Joe Sr. said. “We’re going to have fun with it and keep it pretty casual. It’s going to be a fun, great event. Charlie is very competitive, just like the old man. We’re going to be very competitive out there, but at the same time it’s going to be a nice, enjoyable weekend.”
Joe Jr. is obviously excited at the prospect of having the best seat in the house for Charlie Woods television debut when it comes to competitive golf. Not to mention getting to see Tiger up close and personal in his element.
Charlie Woods has turned heads recently with solid results in junior golf tournaments in Florida, but this will be his first time in the spotlight. This is likely the last time that Tiger, winner of a record-tying 82 PGA Tour titles, will be seen in public until the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, Calif., scheduled for Jan. 28-31. He will turn 45 on Dec. 30.
“I’ve done a little caddying here and there for my buddies, but nothing really like this,” Joe Jr. said. “I’m excited for it. He (Dad) told me before he told my mom. I was super excited. I told all my buddies at school and they were definitely excited for me.”
The Woods-LaCava foursome will play in the final group Saturday at 11:48 a.m. with Justin Thomas and his father/teacher Mike. The other 18 teams that have a major champion and family member include three-time Travelers Championship winner Bubba Watson and his father-in-law Wayne Ball, 1995 Greater Hartford Open champion Greg Norman and son Gregory, 1994 GHO winner Nick Price and son Greg, 1972 GHO champion Lee Trevino and son Daniel, Vijay Singh and son Qass, Jim Furyk and son Tanner, John Daly and son Little John, Gary Player and grandson James, David Duval and son Brady, and Annika Sorenstam and her father Tom.
The field has combined to win 67 major championships, led by Woods’ 15, three behind career leader Jack Nicklaus. Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer and his son Jason won last year in a three-team playoffs after capturing the title in 2014. In 2005 and 2006, Bernhard teamed with son Stefan to win back-to-back titles, and he will compete with daughter Jackie this year. Trevino, 81, will play for the 23rd time, not having missed the tournament.
There’s a pro-am Thursday and Friday on the 6,853-yard, par-72 course, and the purse is $1,085,000, with $200,000 going to the winning team.
On each hole, both players hit tee shots, and the best drive is selected. Each player then plays a second shot from the selected drive, and the best second shot is selected. The process is repeated until the hole is competed for all 36 holes. Coverage on Saturday will be on Peacock (1-2:30 p.m.) and NBC (2:30-5 on live stream) and on Sunday on Golf Channel (11 a.m.-noon on live stream and 2-3 p.m.) and on NBC (live stream, noon-3 p.m. and delayed at 3-6 p.m.).
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