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Youngsters Who Followed Family into Professional Golf

By: | Sun 17 Dec 2017 | Comments

It appears that John Daly Jr may be a chip off the old block. The 14-year-old is already proving to be a formidable young golfer. During the IJGA Invitational at Harbour Town he shot 79-73  to get into a five-man playoff for the title. When he set himself up with a birdie putt to win, he took full advantage. Daly triumphed over a field of 36 players from more than a dozen countries, and no other player from Daly's year finished inside the top 30. He is not the first player to attempt to follow in his father’s footsteps, and only time will tell if he goes on to make a decent living in the professional ranks.

It got us thinking about other youngsters who have attempted to follow in the family tradition. There are more than you might think, and it is perhaps no great surprise that most of them fail to come anywhere close to matching the standards set by their fathers, grandfathers, uncles and aunts. Here, we look at the fortunes of 10 combinations…

Jack, Gary and Jackie Jr Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus is the greatest player the world has ever seen – the 18 majors he won in a glittering career provide all the proof you would ever need to support that statement. He is now one of golf’s elder statesmen, and the man that those who would seek to succeed him go to for advice, which he is always willing to give. He has five children, including four sons, Gary, Jack Jr, Steven and Michael. Imagine the pressure of trying to live up to a father like the Golden Bear. Incredibly, Jack Jr and Gary both decided to try to earn a living as golf pros. Gary made it to the PGA Tour three times before admitting that he wasn’t good enough, although he did lose in a playoff to Phil Mickelson at the 2000 BellSouth Classic. Jackie became most famous for caddying for his father when the great man won The Masters at Augusta in 1986 at the age of 46.

Sam Snead and JC Snead

Slammin’ Sam Snead won seven majors and a record 81 tournaments on the PGA Tour. His swing was as smooth as pouring honey, which was exactly the image he had in his head when he swung the golf club. He won his first professional tournament on the regular tour in 1932 and his last in 1965. He also made the cut at the US PGA Championship in 1979, when he was 67 years old – the oldest player ever to play all four rounds in a major. That same year, he became the oldest player to shoot his age in a regular tour event. So you be sure that there was some pressure on the shoulders of his nephew, Jesse Carlyle Snead, when he entered the paid ranks and joined the PGA Tour in 1968. He shortened his name and became universally known as JC, and he proved he was a decent player in his own right, winning eight times on the PGA Tour. He also finished second at both The Masters and US Open.

Bob and Kevin Tway

Bob Tway is the gentle giant who broke Greg Norman’s heart at the 1986 PGA Championship when he holed an unlikely bunker shot to snatch the title away from the Great White Shark. And he wasn’t a one-hit wonder either. Tway, who stands 6ft 5in and was one of the tallest players on the PGA Tour, won a total of eight times and was the PGA Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year in 1995 after a spell in the wilderness. He also enjoyed top 10 finishes at The Masters, US Open and Open Championship, so he could play a bit. Life in the paid ranks has been a bit harder for his son, Kevin. He was a useful amateur and turned pro in 2011, winning once on the Web.com Tour. He produced a decent run of results  in 2017, with three successive top-five finishes being enough to secure his card for the 2018 season.

Craig and Kevin Stadler

Like father like son. Craig Stadler is a BIG man. So is his son, Kevin. For a time, Craig was one of the most successful players on the PGA Tour. He won 13 times on the PGA Tour, twice on the European Tour and nine times on the Champions Tour. The pinnacle of his playing career came when he won The Masters in 1982. He also played in the Ryder Cup twice, famously missing a putt of no more than 12 inches at The Belfry in 1985. It is no understatement to say that Stadler was one of the grumpiest golfers ever to pick up a club. Like his father, Kevin would never win any slimmer of the year awards. Dad tipped the scales at around 18 stones, and so does Kevin. Craig was a tough act to follow and Kevin struggled for many years until finally making his breakthrough with a victory in the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Gary and Wayne Player

When your father is Gary Player it takes some incredible self belief and courage to attempt to follow in his footsteps. Gary is the best golfer South Africa has ever produced, one of an elite club to have won all four of golf’s majors. He won nine majors in all and enjoyed 24 wins on the PGA Tour and an incredible 63 victories on the Sunshine Tour. In all, he won 165 professional golf tournaments in an astonishing career. His son, Wayne, was always going to struggle to live up to that. He stumbled around the European Tour for a while and enjoyed moderate success. He now runs a sporting events company.

Pat and Keegan Bradley

Pat Bradley was one of the finest women golfers ever to draw breath. She won 31 times on the LPGA Tour, including six majors and is a member of the Golf Hall of Fame. Her brothers include Mark, a PGA professional, whose son is Keegan Bradley. It is safe to assume that golf played a part in Keegan’s formative years so it came as no surprise when he started playing the game. He has gone on to become one of the leading lights on the PGA Tour, winning the US PGA Championship in 2011. It is a safe bet that his Aunt Pat is extremely proud of him, although perhaps not quite so thrilled with the time he takes to play his golf shots.

Arnold Palmer and Sam Saunders

Arnold Palmer, The King. He single-handedly turned round the fortunes of both the PGA Tour and The Open with his brand of attacking golf. He would hit the ball, hitch up his trousers and then go and hit it again, and fans all over the world loved him. He won seven majors and a total of 62 times on the PGA Tour. He was a legend in his own lifetime. Now imagine being Sam Saunders. His mother, Amy, was the youngest daughter of Arnold and Winnie Palmer, and Sam caught the golf bug at a young age. Inevitably, he soon became known as Arnold Palmer’s grandson, which although a privilege, must also be a millstone around his neck as he tried to make his own way in professional golf. Saunders has enjoyed moderate success, playing on the Web.com Tour and he even made it to the PGA Tour in 2015. On September 29, 2017, he shot a round of 59 in the Web.com Tour Championship, but he is still seeking his first win as a pro.

Davis Love III and IV

When you have a name that you like, stick with it. And so Davis Love III decided to follow the family tradition and christen his son Davis Love IV. Let’s stick with Davis Love III for now. He enjoyed a pretty good career, winning 21 times on the PGA Tour, and even threw in the 1997 US PGA Championship for good measure. He also twice finished runner-up at The Masters and finished second at the US Open. He played in six Ryder Cup matches and has been non-playing captain twice, masterminding the US victory in 2016. Davis Love IV, known as Dru, had the old man on his bag during the 2017 US Open but there was to be no fairytale ending. He missed the cut. It remains to be seen whether Dru can make it.

Jay and Bill Haas

Jay Haas was still ranked in the top 20 in the world when he was 50. He had a magnificent career that saw him win nine times on the PGA Tour before enjoying a new lease of life on the Champions Tour, where has enjoyed 18 victories. He has also picked up a clutch of awards along the way and played in three Ryder Cup matches, the last of which when he was 50. A hard act to follow? You bet. But his son, Bill, is having a fair stab at it. He has so far won six times on the PGA Tour and in 2011 he pocketed the $10m bonus for winning the FedEx Cup. He is a rare example of a son who could well go on to have a more successful career than his illustrious father.

Jose Maria and Alejandro Caniazares

Jose Maria turned professional in 1967 and made the top 100 in the European Tour Order of Merit every year from its first season in 1972 through to 1993, an achievement not to be underestimated. He placed in the top ten five times, with a best ranking of fourth in 1983. He also won five tournaments. Cañizares was a member of four European Ryder Cup teams and had a record of five wins, four losses and two ties. In 1985 his singles victory over Fuzzy Zoeller confirmed a European win that took the trophy from the Americans for the first time in 28 years. His son, Alejandro, turned professional in 2006 after a successful college career in America, where he represented Arizona State University. He won his first professional tournament in only his third start on the European Tour and has since added one more title to his resume.

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