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Tiger Woods: My son Charlie is my swing consultant at the US Open

Tiger Woods (R) Charlie Woods (L) – Tiger Woods: My son Charlie is here as my swing consultant
Charlie Woods (left) was on the course with his father for practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday ahead of the US Open - AP/George Walker

The majors have seen fathers coaching sons, fathers caddieing for sons and sons caddieing for fathers. But never has it seen sons coaching fathers. Not until the US Open in 2024, anyway.

‌And this is not any parent-sibling pairing at Pinehurst. Tiger Woods, 48, is a 15-time major winner and Charlie Woods, 15, is perhaps the best-known teenager in golf, despite still being in school and nowhere yet near the elite amateur class. An odd couple, no doubt, but the old man knows what he is doing and who he trusts.

‌Since arriving here Sunday, Woods has been flanked by his boy, with Rob McNamara, his long-time friend, employee and unofficial swing adviser, standing off to the side. Charlie is not simply at North Carolina for the ride in the private jet. He has a player-support badge and is not wearing it to get inside the ropes.

‌“As far as his responsibilities, it’s the same [as that of a coach],” Woods replied when asked about Charlie’s duties this week. I trust him with my swing and my game. He’s seen it more than anybody else in the world. He’s seen me hit more golf balls than anyone.

‌“I tell him what to look for, especially with putting. He gave me a couple little side bits today, which was great, because I get so entrenched in hitting certain putts to certain pins, I tend to forget some of the things I’m working on.”

‌Woods has not used a coach proper for a number of years, certainly not since the car crash three years ago that so almost cost the American his right leg. Those catastrophic injuries forced him to remodel his swing for his comeback, spending countless hours on the range at home in Jupiter along with Charlie, working out what is and is not possible.

‌Ten months after he was plucked from the wreckage in Feb 2021, he played in his first public event at the PGA Tour’s parent-child event. As they finished eighth, Tiger earned the admiration, but Charlie stole the hearts with any number of swashbucking strikes. Charlie has entered some big tournaments with Tiger on the bag and although he has yet to breakthrough there is clearly talent. Just as there is plainly paternal pride.

Tiger Woods (R) Charlie Woods (L) – Tiger Woods: My son Charlie is here as my swing consultant
Tiger Woods (right) has revealed Charlie has been enjoying his experience at Pinehurst - Getty Images/Gregory Shamus

‌“I think having Charlie out here is very special,” Woods said. “We have a great relationship and rapport, and it’s a wonderful experience for both of us. o extend it into this part of both of our lives. He’s playing a lot of junior golf, and I’m still playing out here. It’s neat for him to see the guys that he watches on TV and YouTube and TikTok, whatever the hell it is that they do.”

‌Charlie helps break the silence with some of Woods’s playing partners as well. Take Min Woo Lee, the 25-year-old Australia, who Woods accompanied on a practice round on Tuesday. “They talked quite a bit, Min Woo and Charley,” Woods said. “I think they’re closer in age than I am to anybody else. It’s great for us to be able to share these moments together.”

‌Of course, the teary-eyed Hollywood ending would have the duo walking off into the sunset, with one Tiger hand in Charlie’s and the other carrying the trophy. But golf rarely does schmaltz, particularly US Open golf.

‌This will be a brutal test and it would be a huge accomplishment for Woods, on just his ninth competitive start in 55 months, to make the cut. He fell short at last month’s USPGA and finished 60th at the Masters, stone cold last of those who played all four rounds.

‌There have been glimpses of his former self, but all too fleeting. Woods has himself acknowledged that he is in a Catch 22 as he needs more tournaments, but his battered body will not allow it. His former coach, Hank Haney, probably put it best on social media on Monday. “Tiger’s swing looks really good but golf might be too hard a game to play once in a while at a high level,” Haney posted on X.

‌Woods, however, can do nothing more than be positive and he is adamant that he could still catch lightning in a bottle and somehow contend at the venue where, in this major, he finished third behind the late Payne Stewart in 1999 and second behind Michael Campbell in 2005.

‌“I do,” said Woods, who plays alongside England’s Matt Fitzpatrick in the first two rounds. “I feel like I have the strength to be able to do it. It’s just a matter of doing it. This golf course is going to test every single aspect of your game, especially mentally. We’ve been working on that and making sure that in the next two days I get to understand the gameplan.” Charlie will ensure he does.

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