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FATHER'S DAY - Golf, F1, tennis, and football, which dads have helped their children achieve sporting success?

Thursday, 23 May 2024

Father’s Day - Golf, F1, tennis, and football, which dads have helped their children achieve sporting success?

‘Like father, like son’ is a saying we’ve all heard before, but for which stars has this taken on a more literal meaning?
There are lots of examples of dads who have helped their sons and daughters achieve great sporting success, so let’s look sport by sport at the fantastic fathers and kids who have competed in their chosen field.

Golf

One of golf’s most famous sons, Tiger Woods, has a child of his own who is starting to make waves in the sport. Charlie Woods and Tiger have competed in the annual PNC Championships - a tournament which teams famous golfers up alongside their kids, while Charlie won the Last Chance Regional in Florida in September 2023. Charlie is now working towards going pro himself. Tiger was coached by his own dad, Earl, proving that family has been pivotal in the success of this sporting family.

Meanwhile, Gary Nicklaus had it tough growing up with dad Jack being the most decorated major champion in golf history. Still, Gary competed in three full PGA Tour seasons, which included a playoff loss to Phil Mickelson in the BellSouth Classic in 2000, and he played in two US Opens.

Two-time Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III’s son Dru played in the 2017 US Open as well, continuing a family tradition of golfing excellence that dates back to his grandfather Davis Jnr playing in several majors.

Football

There can be few sporting dynasties that have gone through the generations as the Grays. Frank Gray, brother of one of Leeds United’s most famous players Eddie, was the first footballer to play in two European Cup finals for two different teams - Leeds United and Nottingham Forest, and he earned 32 Scotland caps. His son Andy made 490 first-team appearances for clubs including Leeds, Forest, Bradford City, Sheffield United, Sunderland, Burnley, Charlton Athletic and Barnsley, earning two Scottish caps. And grandson Archie is now getting in on the act, becoming a mainstay in the Leeds team competing for promotion in the 2023-24 season.

Erling Haaland is one of the most famous footballers in the world at the moment, making waves at Manchester City and previously Borussia Dortmund with his goalscoring antics, but his dad did well for himself as well. Alf-Inge played for Forest, Leeds, and Manchester City, before Roy Keane’s horror challenge cut his career short.

Peter Schmeichel was a serial winner at Manchester United as well, but his son Kasper, who is also a goalkeeper, managed a Premier League title of his own when Leicester City famously won the title in 2015/16.

Tennis

It’s not just all the sons who have benefited from their dads’ tuition and experience. Richard Williams coached daughters Serena and Venus to a combined seven Australian Opens, three French Opens, 12 Wimbledons, and eight US Opens. The sisters also dominated the doubles world, winning four Australian Opens, two French Opens, five Wimbledons, and two US Opens. Will Smith even starred as him in the film King Richard, which goes through what he did to aid his daughters’ achievements.

F1

Father-son duos are not uncommon in Formula 1. Three-time world champion Max Verstappen is outshining his father Jos, who started 106 Grand Prix throughout his career, earning two podium appearances.

Graham and Damon Hill are another father-son duo who made waves in the sport. Graham is the only man to have ever completed the Triple Crown, winning the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Formula 1 World Championships, the latter of which he won twice in 1962 and 1968. Meanwhile, Damon won the title in 1996, and he is one of only two sons of a Formula 1 champion, the other being Nico Rosberg. Nico won the title in 2016 after dad Keke emerged triumphant in 1982.

What can we make of this?

It’s interesting to see which children seem to outdo their fathers, and which fathers seem to achieve more than their kids. How much of it is natural talent, and how much of it boils down to coaching, encouragement, and improvement? Does that stem from fathers or other influences such as friends? It’s difficult to tell. But there is no doubt that most sporting stars couldn’t go on to achieve what they do without the steadfast support of their fathers.

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