- Senior golf writer for ESPN.com
- Covered golf for more than 20 years
- Earned Evans Scholarship to attend Indiana University
ORLANDO, Fla. — Wearing the same customary Sunday red as his dad, Charlie Woods exhibited many of the same characteristics of his accomplished father, including the walk, the talk and the swing.
But if he’s really like Tiger Woods, Charlie will be wondering how to make up the 5 strokes they lost by at the PNC Championship and how they can improve enough to win next year.
That’s not what this week was about for Tiger and his 11-year-old son, a bonding experience that saw them shoot a 10-under-par 62 in the scramble format at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club to finish seventh, 5 strokes behind the winning team of Justin Thomas and his father Mike Thomas.
But it was nonetheless neat to see Woods pull back the curtain a bit so that the world could see the impact that he’s had on his son.
“It was incredibly special for us to have the opportunity to spend the quality time we had,” said Woods, who last month surprisingly committed to the event for major champions and their family members. “It’s memories we’ll have for our entire lives.”
Unlike Saturday, when the duo played the first nine holes in 8 under par, the start was slower on Sunday. But they still managed to shoot the same score, aided by two eagles. They also had seven birdies and a bogey.
Tiger was better on Sunday, seemingly more comfortable, but Charlie did plenty to help. Once again, on several holes, his teeing-ground advantage was such that a good drive by him meant there was no point in Tiger hitting. He’d knock it out into the fairway, turn around and give dad a thumbs up. Tiger picked up his tee and didn’t bother hitting.
And when he rolled in a 10-footer for birdie at the 10th hole, Charlie gave the signature fist pump that his dad made famous many times over the years.
“You gotta love it, right?” said David Duval, who along with his son, Braden, played with Tiger and Charlie. “I thought it was spectacular.”
Duval, who won The Open in 2001 for his lone major title, was once a big rival to Woods, winning 13 PGA Tour events starting in 1997. For a time, he supplanted Woods as the No. 1-ranked player in the world. He enjoyed the walk down the fairways again with his old friend and was impressed with his son.
“The best way you can describe it is he has great fundamentals,” Duval said. “He is not afraid. And he hits the ball pretty darn far. Charlie maximizes it. He moves it out there pretty darn good for a little fella. And it’s only going to get better, if that’s what he wants.”
And that is a likely a question for another day. Tiger undoubtedly loves that his son is so interested in the game, but this was a big step out for him to allow a peak into his personal life.
One thing is certain. Charlie’s performance was no surprise to Tiger.
“I’m just proud,” he said. “Just like at the Medalist, stay in your own world, enjoy. Our little world, we kept it as that. It was special for both of us. He’s not going to appreciate this at 11 years old. As the years go by, you start appreciating it more. I’m sure that we’ll have a lot of banter over the holidays and the years to come.”
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