There has always been a symbiotic relationship between golf and fatherhood. From casual players to the best in the world, common threads between golfers and dads are woven into the fabric of the sport. In honor of Father’s Day, here are some of professional golf’s best “dad” moments.
Jack Nicklaus wins ’86 Masters with his son Jackie as his caddie
At 46, and six years removed from his last major, Jack Nicklaus wasn’t supposed to win the 1986 Masters. Through three-and-a-half rounds, the doubters looked to be right — until Nicklaus, with his son Jackie on his bag, shot an extraordinary 30 on the back nine on Sunday and emerged victorious. With this legendary performance, the Golden Bear cemented his legacy as an 18-time major champion.
Bill Haas comes in clutch for Team USA at 2015 Presidents Cup
When Jay Haas chose his son Bill as one of his two Captains picks for the 2015 Presidents Cup, whispers of nepotism were ushered throughout the golf community. But the elder Haas’ selection turned out to be a stroke of genius. In the fateful tiebreaking singles match, Bill Haas defeated Sangmoon Bae and secured a 15.5-14.5 victory for Team USA. It was a moment as shocking for father as for son. “I couldn’t even have dreamt this,” Jay said afterward.
Tiger at the Masters: a 20-year journey.
When a 21-year-old Tiger Woods took the world by storm at the 1997 Masters, he had only legally been an adult for four months. After his decisive four-foot putt secured a 12-stroke victory at Augusta, Woods made a beeline for his father and immediately embraced him.
“It was just one of those moments where everyone melted away,” Woods said in 2018. “And it was just me and my dad.”
Then, two turbulent decades later, Tiger returned to Augusta and completed the sport’s most remarkable comeback in jaw-dropping fashion. Now, instead of running into his father’s arms, Tiger’s first celebratory act was as a dad, lifting his son high into the air.
Phil Mickelson’s 1999 U.S Open Dilemma
When Payne Stewart lined up his final putt on the 18th hole at Pinehurst in the 1999 U.S Open, Phil Mickelson was tied for the lead with a whole lot more than golf on his mind.
“I was thinking, ‘Gosh, if it goes in, I’m going home tonight and I’m going to see (my wife) Amy,’ ” Mickelson told ESPN in 1999. “And if it doesn’t, then I’ve got to stick around for another day (and the playoff), and I hope that the baby doesn’t come.”
(Un?)Luckily for Phil, his conundrum never materialized; Stewart famously drained the putt, and after celebrating his victory, shared some words with Mickelson. Stewart’s message to Lefty?
“You’re going to be a great father.”
Phil skips the 2017 U.S. Open for his daughter’s graduation
The only submission on this list celebrating the absence of golf came at the 2017 U.S. Open. Phil Mickelson, still seeking a national championship to complete a career grand slam, withdrew from the event. Instead, Phil attended his eldest daughter Amanda’s high school graduation, a worthy cause for Lefty’s first absence at the U.S. Open since 1994.
Davis Love III wins 1997 PGA with a rainbow in the sky
Davis Love III comes from a family steeped in golf lore; his father, Davis Love Jr. was a professional on Tour and a longtime teaching professional. In 1988, Love III tragically lost his father in a plane crash.
Nine years later, Love III stood on the cusp of winning his first major, the 1997 PGA Championship. As he approached the 18th hole, his victory all but imminent, a rainbow could be seen stretching over the horizon. On the CBS broadcast, Jim Nantz punctuated Love III’s victory as “etching the family name in the golf history, and consummating a special father-son story of love.”