Charlie Woods shines, carries his dad Tiger Woods in PNC Championship debut

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Adam Schupak
·5 min read
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ORLANDO – Charlie Woods is having the time of his life this week at the PNC Championship.

He’s just 11 years old, making his tournament debut as the youngest ever competitor in this 36-hole exhibition featuring winners of prestigious tournaments and their family members.

On Saturday, Charlie carried his famous father, the 15-time major champion.

“He did,” Tiger said with a big smile on his face. The proud papa added that his only son hit “some of the most incredible shots,” and that he had “the best time.”

Father and son teamed for a score of 10-under 62 in the scramble format, offsetting a bogey at the par-4 15th with nine birdies and an eagle at the par-5 third hole. Team Woods trails first-round leaders Matt Kuchar and son Cameron by four strokes heading into Sunday’s final round.

Until this week, Charlie’s golf exploits had mostly been guarded like state secrets. Occasionally, video of his swing would surface on social media from one of his appearances at a junior tournament and dissected as if it was the Zapruder Film.

Justin Thomas and father Mike, who has helped Charlie with his swing, were paired with Charlie and Tiger in the first round and neither were surprised with his poise and clutch play.

“I’ve seen it,” Justin Thomas said. “He’s special. He’s a gamer. He’s a grinder. He’s competitive. But he’s just so young.”

Mike Thomas touted Charlie as “focused and driven” before sharing a colorful anecdote of an 11-year-old with his father’s competitive spirit.

“I lost a dollar to him on the practice green,” he said. “The first thing he did when he got here was come running up to me. I guess he knew where the easy money was. We were about 10 minutes from heading to the tee and I said, ‘Charlie, do you still have that dollar with you? One putt, closest to the pin.’ He said, ‘I like my dollar. I think I’ll just hold on to it.’ ”

And that wasn’t the last time Charlie showed he got more than just the golf genes from his dad. Apparently, he also got his long needle. At the 13th hole, he poked fun at Thomas after he drove into a bunker, as Justin Thomas detailed.

“It started in the pro-am. Charlie hit his drive through the fairway on 13 and my dad was playing in front of him and took a piece of paper and wrote, ‘draw hole’ on it and put it underneath his ball,” he said. “In typical Woods fashion, he kept the piece of paper and when my dad hit it in the bunker he took that same exact piece of paper and put it behind his ball. Little bit of karma.”

Team Woods got off to a quick shot, keyed by a spectacular second shot at the par-5 third hole from Charlie from 175 yards away. Charlie was in between a 3-wood and a 5-wood, and Tiger told him to just hit it. He belted the shot to 3 feet, and Tiger could be heard exclaiming, “Awesome shot!”

Charlie cleaned up from there for the only eagle of the day at the hole.

At the fifth hole, Tiger fanned his tee shot to the right and after Charlie cranked a draw that split the fairway, Thomas could be heard telling Charlie, “You’re so much better than your dad it hurts.”

Other highlights included seeing Charlie walk in a birdie putt at the ninth hole and hit a gorgeous approach to set up birdie at 16. On three occasions – Nos. 13, 14, and 18 – Tiger didn’t bother to hit a tee shot because he knew he couldn’t do any better than Tiger. As noted on the NBC telecast, Tiger’s tee shot at the 15th hole was the first time Team Woods had used his drive on a par 4 or 5 since the opening hole, a span of 10 holes.

“There are kids 11, 12, 13 years old sitting on their couch at home that can’t hit those shots on the range and he’s doing it in front of crowds and on national television,” Justin Thomas said.

When asked to explain how Charlie managed to treat playing in front of hundreds of spectators and millions more watching on TV, Tiger simply explained, “The shots don’t change. That’s the thing he’s learning.”

Part of the beauty of this week has been seeing Tiger in ‘dad mode,’ a side of him that we’ve witnessed only in rare snippets such as their celebratory hug when Tiger won the 2019 Masters.

“I don’t really care about my game,” Tiger said. “I just want to make sure that Charlie has the time of his life and he’s doing that.”

As is Woods, apparently. Asked if it was the most fun he’s had this year, he smiled and said, “Oh, without a doubt. Yes.”

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