Spieth, Harrington, and Cink Teams Look to Enjoy PNC Championship

Tiger and Charlie Woods, PNC Championship,Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports
Tiger and Charlie Woods, PNC Championship,Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports /

No matter what anyone says about the PNC Championship, it’s going to be the Tiger and Charlie show.  Tiger and Charlie Woods.

Everybody, including the rest of the golfers in the field, wants to see them both hit shots and play golf.   Because of Tiger Woods’ injuries, he’s not a lock to play well.   However, at this juncture, just seeing him play at all is important.

And there’s a boatload of champions who are also interested in the end-of-season trophy, which is really a pair of highly decorated belts.

The PNC Championship field, with their fathers or sons or daughters or whoever makes up each team, is filled with major winners with hidden killer instincts.  Some are out-and-out legends, like Gary Player and Lee Trevino.

Others are legends in training, like Justin Thomas. The one thing they have in common this week is that they intend to have fun on the golf course, whatever the outcome.

Stewart Cink called it the “most enjoyable tournament of the year.”

"“We’re here to enjoy it, and anything past that is a bonus,” Padraig Harrington said. “I can guarantee if we play well and everything goes well, we’ll be stressing and trying hard on the last couple of holes. But it doesn’t mean we have to do that all week.”"

“Anybody we play with will be a treat and will be a thrill,” Shawn Spieth noted.

Cink is paired with his son Connor this year at the PNC Championship, although in the past he has played with Reagan, who has also been successful as dad’s caddie.

Harrington is playing with his namesake son Paddy.  Shawn Spieth is with his famous son, Jordan. Beyond fun, which they all agree is the point of the contest, every team approaches it differently.

The Cink sons alternate playing with dad.  But there was an exception when Stewart and Connor won the first time they played, which was in 2013.   Connor got to play the next year because he was defending champ.  When one Cink brother plays, the other one caddies for him.

“It’s always cooperative and a little competitive but you know, it’s all in good — good fun,” Connor explained.  There’s also what he called “light trash talking” between the brothers.

When asked about Tiger Woods playing, the elder Cink expressed amazement.

"“We are never really going to know how much is in there because he just continues to do more than we thought he would ever be able to do,” Cink said. “I came out at just the same time he did, and if you asked me if there is going to be anybody in our generation to win a hundred tournament — what is he, 81? 82 tournaments, I would have probably said, no, there’s no chance.”"

Without the accident, the century mark on the PGA Tour was probably possible.

"“I like coming here because there’s guys playing here who were my heroes growing up.”                 – Padraig Harrington"

Padraig Harrington brings the whole family to the PNC Championship.

“I like coming here because there’s guys playing here who were my heroes growing up,” Harrington said. “In some ways I’m bringing my son along so that he can have some of that.”

He pointed to Gary Player, who his son now knows, and said without events like this, his son wouldn’t have a relationship with Player.  But Harrington has some other players he wants to see.

PNC Championship, Tiger Woods, Charlie Woods, Jordan Spieth, Stewart Cink, Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington, PNC Championship, (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

“As I walk down the range, Nelly Korda is the one I’m going to look at. Lee Trevino, Gary Player,” he noted in particular.

He said he’d seen enough of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.  Certainly, he has at Ryder Cups in the past. He’s probably had enough of them to last a golf lifetime. But there is one other team he is interested in watching.

“I will take a little sneaky look at Tiger, no doubt. But Charlie, to be honest, I’m more interested in Charlie,” Harrington admitted.

He said the most interesting thing about Charlie is that he is able to hold the proper angles in the swing, which, according to Harrington, is hard for most 11-to-13-year-olds.   It’s a strength issue, no doubt.

"“So, it’s fascinating to watch now, but it will come down to how much he really loves the game whether he — you know, how successful he is.”"

Harrington said he watched The Match and was impressed with Woods’ swing speed.  He doesn’t doubt Woods’ ability to win again.

"“You’re not doubting Tiger being good down the last nine holes,” he said, “Who would want to be coming down the stretch against Tiger, all these young guys, you know. You know he’s capable of doing anything at that stage.”"

Harrington’s namesake son, Paddy, will be his partner.  Paddy spent the early part of the week with two college exams.  He had to take one of them at five in the morning. He didn’t get a break due to the time difference.

Jordan Spieth said his job on Team Spieth is to hit a good drive so they both have a good place to play from on the second shot.

"“He has a really good short game. Pretty good iron play and worst part is when he wants to hit a drive really far, which is most every drive,” Spieth said about his father. “When he swings smooth, he drives it really nice.”"

(Hmmm, is that, perhaps, hereditary?)

Shawn Spieth was a collegiate baseball player, and as such probably has pretty good eye-hand coordination.  Contacting the ball shouldn’t be a problem. Lack of reps might be.

“I’ve played quite a bit the last two months and not much at all before that,” the elder Spieth admitted, adding that he typically plays five or six times a year.

"“This is the first time I’ve worked at it for six weeks, so I should be good and consistent by now. Right.”"

He said he’s probably twice as good as he was six weeks ago. In other words, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Jordan Spieth said he was looking forward to playing with Nelly Korda because of her golf swing.  He wants his dad to use her swing as a template for tempo.

PNC Championship, Tiger Woods, Charlie Woods, Jordan Spieth, Stewart Cink, Padraig Harrington
Nelly Korda, PNC Championship, Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports /

“She swings it so sweet. It will be nice to watch that tempo and hopefully Dad will watch that tempo,” Spieth said. “It’s like playing with Adam Scott.”

Make no mistake about these two, they are determined.

"“Dad wants to win. I’ll do my best to try and help put us in a position to do so.” – Jordan Spieth"

When asked about playing with legends or heroes, Shawn Spieth perhaps had the best answer when he said he hadn’t played with any of them so every golfer they play with will be exciting for him.  He also had the best question when he asked what was on everyone’s mind.

“Is Charlie carrying it 260 or 290? Everybody wants to know which one it is,” he added.

Yes.  We all want to know and see and watch.

Defending champs are the Dalys, John and Little John.

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The PNC Championship starts on Saturday and television times are as follows:

Saturday, Dec. 17 —  Peacock 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

NBC 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM  

Sunday, Dec. 18 —  Peacock 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Golf Channel 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

NBC 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM