Annika Sorenstam’s 11-year-old emblemizes what makes PNC so fun
The question for Annika Sorenstam’s 11-year-old son Will McGee came from Golf Channel’s Steve Sands.
“Do you realize how great your mother was when she was the best player in the world?” Sands asked Will in a post-round interview.
“Sometimes,” Will said, flashing a smile that could light up the Ritz Carlton clubhouse.
Sands laughed and then asked Will what it was like to play alongside his mom at this weekend’s PNC Championship.
“She hasn’t played in a long time, and she still has a solid game,” he said.
“A solid game” is one of the understatements of the century given Sorenstam is almost undisputedly the greatest female golfer of all time, a fact of which Will is no doubt well aware. But, hey, you never want to give your parents too much credit, right?
The youthful cheekiness, wide-eyed wonder and exceptional talent of the PNC Championship’s youngest competitors has fast become a big part of what makes this week so special — and so much fun to watch.
A year ago, the world met then-11-year-old Karl Stenson, son of Henrik. The quick wit and deadpan delivery of the then-youngest participant in PNC history made Karl arguably the most popular player in the field not named Woods.
Karl and his dad were absent this year due to Henrik’s commitment to LIV Golf, but Will, while not with the same chirps, had fans and his fellow competitors laughing and smiling.
Which is exactly what this event — or any parent-child event — should be delivering: laughs and smiles.
Witness the sassy handwritten notes the Woods and Thomases left next to one another’s balls. Or the matching father-son outfits. Or the mid-round swing lessons. Or the semi-serious analysis of Will’s carry distances, which were down to the yard. (He flies his driver 167 yards, by the way.)
Sure, winning parent-child tournaments comes with bragging rights, but nearly every competitor seems to agree: no matter where you finish, simply playing in the event is a win.
Will appears to be at a prime age at which to join this event. He’s one month younger than Karl Stenson was last year, and two months younger than Charlie Woods was two years ago.
This winning son at this year’s PNC, Qass Singh — who after 16 tries finally prevailed with dad Vijay — first came to this event when he was 13. He’s now 32, has a full-time job after giving up on his pro-golf dreams but still bombs it past his dad.
Just as golf fans watched Qass grow up at the PNC, the same is likely to be true of Will, Charlie, Luke Leonard, Carson Kuchar and other teens and pre-teens. They want to keep coming back.
Along the way, there will be plenty of memorable moments like Charlie’s first-ever eagle in 2020, or Sorenstam, as she did Sunday, walking up the 18th fairway holding up Will’s hand. A 10-time major winner, Sorenstam has made plenty of curtain calls, and even though she and Will finished 17th, this stroll ranked right up there.
“This is another special one,” Sorenstam told Sands. “I was wearing my glasses, I had a little tear there. I mean, obviously, I’m in a different time in my life now and to be able to walk up with Will is just incredible. And knowing what the game of golf has provided to the whole family. And to be here in Orlando with friends and family watching is just very, very special.”
Added Will, “That was awesome with all the people chanting my name. It was just incredible.”
On many levels.