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Father/son Tanigawa duo seeks Charles Schwab Cup Championship

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CARY, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 13: Ken Tanigawa of the United States talks with his caddie on the third hole tee box during the first round of the SAS Championship at Prestonwood Country Club on October 13, 2023 in Cary, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

CARY, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 13: Ken Tanigawa of the United States talks with his caddie on the third hole tee box during the first round of the SAS Championship at Prestonwood Country Club on October 13, 2023 in Cary, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)



    Written by Sammy Cibulka

    PHOENIX -- In a field of past major champions and World Golf Hall of Famers, Ken Tanigawa has crashed the party at this week’s Charles Schwab Cup Championship, contested at his hometown Phoenix Country Club.

    Tanigawa, who competed as an amateur for a large portion of his adult life, has found a home on PGA TOUR Champions since turning 50, and he qualified for the 2023 season finale via the top 36 on the season-long Charles Schwab Cup standings.

    By reaching the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, Tanigawa, 55, has secured exempt PGA TOUR Champions status for 2024. He’s well aware of the significance of his accomplishment. And what better way to commemorate the feat than to have his son on the bag?

    What started six years ago at The Senior Open Championship qualifier, where Tak Tanigawa used a pushcart to push around his dad’s bag, progressed to an occasional pursuit – and now to a weekly gig.

    Tak has been on the bag full-time since graduating from Loyola University Chicago earlier this year. Now, Team Tanigawa will pursue a Charles Schwab Cup Championship title together.

    “I asked him, and he was more than happy and willing to do it,” Ken said Tuesday at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. “And it's been just a remarkable time for me as a dad to be able to spend as much time with my son right at this age. I mean, you get to a certain point where you know your kid is going to do their own thing and go on to bigger, better things. So to be able to spend the quality time on and off the golf course, for me, it's just amazing memories. A big deal, you know.”

    Caddie or not, Tak has played hundreds of rounds with his dad and seen thousands of shots. He knows his dad’s game inside and out. Consequently, watching an event from outside the ropes can be even more stressful than being on the bag, when he and his dad can “just go play golf.”

    The player/caddie relationship is essential in success, and every player is different. Jordan Spieth and Michael Greller can be defined by a conversational love/hate relationship. Max Homa and Joe Greiner are very analytical. The list could go on and on.

    The Tanigawas are fully aware of their relationship.

    “I think a great caddie really understands their player; he knows what to say when,” Ken said. “But I think it's difficult in this sense because it's my son who's caddying for me; I am his dad. It's not like he's a caddie who happens to be my son, so it's very different, but it's a lot of fun.”

    Tak is certainly not the same caddie he was six years ago. He better understands not only his dad’s game but what makes a caddie a caddie.

    “You have got to have focus for every single shot for 18 holes for three, four days and knowing the right things to say and when to not say anything, and kind of let them just be hot for a little bit or let them ride the momentum for themselves,” said Tak.

    As the Tanigawas continue to prepare for the biggest stage that just so happens to be in their backyard, they have both somewhat thought about holding that trophy together.

    “It would be just like a mic drop, to be able to share that with my son,” Ken said. “It would just be unbelievable.”

    “I don’t know if I would ever caddie again,” Tak quipped. “It would be pretty cool, especially here.”

    What does mom/wife think about all of this?

    “She hasn’t said anything,” Ken said with a laugh. But she does travel with the player/caddie duo, turning golf into quite the family outing.

    By Sammy Cibulka

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