The must-see practice round of the year took place Friday at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando Grande Lakes course and it only was partially because Tiger Woods was involved.
Woods and his 11-year-old son Charlie will be a featured pairing at the PNC Championship, the annual winter team event that pairs a professional player with a family member. While many competitors are playing with their fathers in the Saturday/Sunday event, the Woods pairing of the pro father and younger son is expected to be riveting.
Charlie has a nearly identical swing as his father, and if Friday's practice round is any indication, the younger of the duo gets a true roll out of his putting stroke and is aggressive enough on the greens that he isn't afraid to put the ball past the hole.
At the No. 17 green Friday, Charlie Woods sent a 15-foot putt just past the left edge of the cup. Tiger Woods followed his son's line, but not the kid's aggressive stroke, and left his own putt short.
"It's so much fun for me to see him enjoying this, enjoying the game," Tiger Woods said.
As Charlie Woods starts to make himself known in junior tournaments, his prowess on the golf course will be documented more and more. But this weekend's tournament figures to supply thorough coverage of the young protege.
NBC will broadcast both days of the tournament, while the Peacock streaming channel will have early coverage Saturday and the Golf Channel will have early coverage Saturday.
"He's been playing junior golf tournaments and he's been out in front and having people video him," Tiger Woods said. "This is a different world we live in now; everyone has a phone."
Plenty of players have been interested in getting a look at Charlie Woods as well. He is, after all, an early glimpse at golf's next generation. Padraig Harrington called it the rare event when somebody other than Tiger will get more attention.
Tour pro Justin Thomas is close friends with the Woods family and has played multiple rounds with the attention-getting father-son duo. Thomas says Charlie Woods is a noted trash talker, giving an example of a putting contest two years ago when Tiger's son, then 9, was not shy about boasting he was in the lead at one point. Thomas was the No. 1 player in the world at the time.
Thomas will play this weekend with his father, who also operates as his swing coach. And he hopes the Woods family will simply be able to have a pleasant, albeit competitive, weekend on the course together.
"I'm hoping Charlie will be comfortable," Thomas said. "I'd love to see him play well. I'd love to see him, you know, hold his own, if you will. But at the same time, he's just 11 years old. He doesn't need to be compared to Tiger; he doesn't need to be compared to anybody. He needs to enjoy the game. Hopefully we'll be able to help him enjoy it Saturday a little bit more."
(Field Level Media)