The two worlds of Tiger WoodsSamples lighter side at PNC Championship, but still has PGA TOUR game
December 20, 2020
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
Charlie & Tiger Woods celebrate after birdie on No. 18 at PNC Championship
ORLANDO, Fla. – The PNC Championship is many things to many people, be they fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, grandfathers and grandsons, and one father-in-law and son-in-law this year. Justin Thomas and dad Mike shot a 15-under 57 to win on a partly cloudy Sunday at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, while 81-year-old Lee Trevino turned heads by rolling back the odometer to fire a final-round 59 with his son, Daniel, and tie for third, two back.
Charlie Woods, 11, was the star of the show, and Padraig Harrington was only half-kidding when he said no one really cared about seeing Tiger compared to his tiny doppelganger with the giant, Tiger-like game. Team Woods went matchy-matchy in black slacks and red shirts for the final round and shot their second straight 62 to reach 20 under, solo seventh, five back.
It was, Woods said, again, the memory of a lifetime. Enjoyable. Fun.
“It was incredibly special for us,” he said.
You saw him knuckle-bump Charlie after their birdies. You saw him watch the line as Charlie putted first. You saw him not bother to hit drives after Charlie had pounded one out there. But there were no great revelations, and few surprising moments. The surprise was that he was here.
It’s hard to know what to make of Woods sometimes, and that’s because the playing captain of the 2019 U.S. Presidents Cup Team has his spikes in two very different worlds. True, he led a dozen of the best American players to victory at Royal Melbourne last December, but he also went 3-0-0 himself. And a month after defending his earth-tilting 2019 Masters title at Augusta National, he and Charlie were headlining the hit-and-giggle PNC.
He’s been voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame but hasn’t yet been inducted.
“I think it’s incredible,” Mark O’Meara, who shot 23 under with son Shaun, said of seeing Woods here. “I heard rumors that he was going to do this. When I saw him at Augusta at the dinner, I said, ‘Hey – is it true?’ He said, ‘It is.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re going to have a blast.’”
Charlie Woods fist pumps after birdie putt at PNC Championship
Age-wise, Woods is almost exactly between Lee Trevino, who hit his prime several presidents ago, and Charlie Woods, whose future in golf seems bright if he wants to pursue it. Tiger will turn 45 at the end of this month, but still looks nowhere near ready to ride into the horizon.
In fact, you might have thought you’d stepped into a time machine if you saw Woods and David Duval, a couple of Y2K masters of the universe, walking side-by-side Sunday. There was Woods in black and red, Duval in all black, each swooshed up in Nike. Only now they were playing in a scramble, and after falling out of contention it was just about enjoying the day.
“He and I talked about that on the first tee,” Duval said, when asked when they’d last played together. “I reckoned it was 15 years or so, and he was thinking 16 or 17 years.”
Duval, who has spent the last six years or so as an analyst for the Golf Channel, is 49. He doesn’t play much competitive golf these days and didn’t play much golf of any kind after undergoing neck surgery in July. He said he barely touched a club from April until October.
“It was just nice to be able to walk the fairway with (Woods) again and play and play well,” he said.
Someone asked him to assess Charlie’s game.
“The best way you can describe it is he’s got great fundamentals, and basically, he’s not afraid,” said Duval, a 13-time PGA TOUR winner. “Just like most young kids, it seems, aren’t afraid. And he hits the ball pretty darn far. … Charlie maximizes it. He gets it out there pretty darn good for a little fella, and it’s only going to get better if that’s what he wants.”
As for Charlie’s dad, Duval called him a friend; the GOAT, as in Greatest of All Time; and as nice and encouraging a playing partner as David’s son, Brayden, was likely to find at the PNC.
Indeed, Woods was not out to step on the necks of his fellow competitors; he said he hadn’t practiced. One got the sense that the PNC was Charlie’s idea, and Tiger came to support his son in whatever way he could, including handling the not insignificant media obligations.
Freed up to be himself, Charlie’s Tiger-like fist pump as they birdied the 10th hole Sunday – a moment Duval called “spectacular” – nicely encapsulated the week. Tiger and Presidents Cup teammate Justin Thomas texted Saturday night about the experience and what fun it all was.
The PNC is nominally a PGA TOUR Champions event, so it was put to Justin that perhaps he and Tiger had somehow earned honorary PGA TOUR Champions membership.
“He’s not too far from that,” said Thomas, 27.
No, perhaps not, but Woods would surprise no one by winning for the 83rd time next season, breaking out of a tie with Sam Snead atop the all-time list. It was only October of 2019, after all, when he last won at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. He’s a statesman, he’s a Hall of Famer, he’s a dad, and he just played in the PNC, but Tiger Woods isn’t done yet.