Top 5 Will McGee moments from PNC Championship
4 Min Read
Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
The PNC Championship never fails to enchant the golf world, with legends like Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, Lee Trevino and Gary Player, as well as in-prime stars like Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, competing alongside family members in a 36-hole scramble. Players, families and fans look forward to the event as an indispensable experience to conclude the year in golf.
This week, Will McGee was the epitome of the event’s shine. The son of LPGA great Sorenstam, McGee embraced every moment on and off the course. He interacted with the game’s greats and created memories of his own inside the ropes. McGee, 11, became the youngest PNC participant, and he didn’t miss a beat with hat tips, waves to the crowd and radiant energy.
Sorenstam/McGee finished T17 on the leaderboard but perhaps won the week.
“He just loves the game so much,” Sorenstam said. “To see how he lit up, walking the fairways, knowing he was playing the same course as some of the best in the world, it warms my heart.”
The same could be said for golf fans across the globe.
Here’s a look at five McGee moments to remember from this year’s PNC Championship.
Sharing a range with Tiger Woods
Prior to the PNC Championship, a scene made the rounds on social media indicating McGee’s adoration for Tiger Woods. Two weekends ago at The Match, Sorenstam approached Woods for an introduction with McGee; Woods’ face lit up upon seeing Sorenstam, and the trio had a chat.
Fast forward to Ritz-Carlton GC, with Woods and McGee sharing adjacent spots on the range. Woods went through his routine, as did McGee. But McGee broke from that routine on occasion. He had a front-row seat to the preparation of the 82-time TOUR winner, whom he has described as his hero. He wasn’t about to let this moment pass him by, and he didn’t, peeking over at times to observe Woods at work.
Straight-drive contest with Justin Thomas
McGee took to the range with driver, and Justin Thomas strolled up with an offer. McGee plays left-handed, so the right-handed Thomas proposed a straighest-drive challenge with McGee’s driver.
McGee launched one on a string, leading Thomas to remark, “OK, I lose.”
Thomas took a few practice swings, dialing in an abbreviated motion, and didn’t quite make the best contact. Sorenstam offered a mulligan, and Thomas obliged. “This counts,” Sorenstam warned. Thomas was off-line once again, and McGee won the challenge.
“That’s why I’m a right-handed golfer, right there,” said Thomas, before complimenting McGee’s tan joggers. “Those are pretty stylish,” he said.
Showmanship inside the ropes
Some 11-year-olds might shy away from the spotlight, testing their game on a nationally televised platform, in a competition against some of the game’s greats. Not McGee.
His moxie was illuminated from the get-go. He fist-pumped upon draining a 20-foot birdie at the par-3 fourth in Saturday’s opening round. He made a 50-foot birdie at the ninth, grinning impishly before removing his hat and waving it to the fans; all Sorenstam could do was chuckle.
Three holes later, McGee took it up a notch. After striking a 15-footer for birdie, he raised his putter as the ball moved within 5 feet of the hole. He then started walking toward the cup for the last few feet. As the putt dropped, he was in full stride.
“You don’t think he’s watched Tiger and all these guys through the years?” remarked broadcaster Dan Hicks.
“And Jack (Nicklaus),” added analyst Peter Jacobsen.
Sixth-grade teacher joins the gallery
McGee’s fan base grew throughout the week in central Florida, but one fan was there on the front end. McGee’s sixth-grade math teacher, Susan Morris, attended the PNC Championship and witnessed his authentic love for the game on display firsthand.
“He’s been so excited for weeks now, and he’s been talking about it daily,” Morris said.
Golf has been discussed in the classroom -- Morris and McGee often review trick shots on TikTok after class – and Morris traversed the Ritz-Carlton GC layout to see McGee navigate a more traditional golf setting. She also shared a fun fact regarding McGee’s fashion tendencies at school.
“When mom and dad are in town, Will is dressed very nice. You can always tell when Will chooses his own clothes,” Morris said. “So I think dad (Mike) is choosing his clothes this week.”
Fans chant ‘Will! Will!’ on walk up 18
The week was nearly complete, but McGee wasn’t done yet. As Sorenstam and McGee walked up No. 18 fairway on Sunday, a buzz started to grow amongst the crowd. Mother and son held hands as they approached the green, together raising their hands to the gallery upon being introduced.
McGee drained a 6-footer for birdie to conclude the week. Sorenstam clapped; McGee took off his cap and waved it to the adoring gallery. The fans took it from there.
“Will! Will! Will! Will!”
It would have been impossible to wipe the smile from McGee’s face. He removed his cap and waved to the fans, before one final hug with mom.
“That was awesome,” McGee said, “with all the people chanting my name. “It was just incredible.”
“I had a little tear there,” Sorenstam said. “I’m in a different time in my life now, and to be able to walk up with Will is just incredible.”
“She hasn’t played in a long time,” McGee added, “but she still has a solid game.”
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for PGATOUR.COM. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.