While Justin Leonard is gearing up for the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship — the first of numerous majors coming to the new Fields Ranch East Course at the PGA of America’s new home in Frisco, Texas — he found himself discussing Charlie Woods during the media lead-up to this week’s event.
Luke Leonard and Charlie Woods, the 14-year-old son of Tiger Woods, were recently paired in a junior club championship in Florida. The two both attend The Benjamin School, a private school in Palm Beach.
“That was fun,” Justin Leonard said. “They go to the same school, although they’re on different campuses. He’ll be a freshman, so they’ll be at the same school. But I think it was Luke’s first time to play with him, and I know it was his first time to play in front of Tiger Woods.
“It was cool. It was fun to watch him. It was fun — I enjoyed not only watching my son play, watching Charlie play because he played great, and then talking about junior golf with Tiger for nine holes and little things that we see in our kids that they need to work on or whatever it may be.”
At one point during the round, Leonard had a flashback when the younger Woods pulled off a shot that his dad could be proud of.
“There was a shot that Charlie hit into 12, which was a par 5, this beautiful high like soft cut, looked like a 3-hybrid or something,” Leonard said. “Landed on the green, and it stopped dead. There might have been a little bit of a club twirl at the end of it, and I walked by Tiger, I go, ‘Okay, a lot of that looked very familiar,’ and we both had a good chuckle.”
As for his own son, Leonard said it’s been a fun experience, watching young Luke round into form. During a recent tournament at Wellington National Golf, the younger Leonard shot a final-round 74 to get into the top 10 in a strong field, one that included South Florida PGA boys 13-18 medalist tour player of the year leader Cameron Kuchar, the son of Matt Kuchar.
“It’s fun to see the lightbulb go off and gain a little momentum, because this game — dad, I keep practicing, I’m not shooting any better. I go, trust me, your game is getting better, the scores will come,” Leonard said. “I’m talking to myself, too, at the same time. We’re learning a lot of lessons. I’m relearning them, he’s learning them for the first time.”