As is customary for Tiger Woods at a golf tournament, his group was the main event regardless of the fact that he’s not leading the event. The difference this time around, though, was that Tiger did not necessarily steal the show.
The father-son duo of Tiger and his 11-year-old son Charlie shot a 10-under 62 on Saturday in Round 1 of the PNC Championship, and it was Charlie — like Padraig Harrington said earlier in the week — who commandeered the attention.
Part of this is, of course, because this is an exhibition, and nobody cares about how Tiger plays in an exhibition. But a lot of people care about his heretofore unseen son plays. Charlie, however, played so well throughout the day.
The game on Saturday was a scramble, but Charlie made an eagle on his own ball when he bent one around the trees on the third hole that elicited a tweet from somebody who knows a thing or two about being good from a young age, LeBron James. The shot itself was hit to 5 feet, and Charlie touched off the 3 on his own to help Team Woods go out in 28.
Despite a bogey on the back nine, Team Woods bounced back when Charlie nearly holed out on the par-4 16th and sank the birdie putt. Tiger himself was within probably 8 feet, but he got usurped by his son, which was a theme for the entire day.
Consistently, Team Woods used Charlie’s drives, which kept Tiger from having to hit driver and led to some amazing tee-swipe-thumbs-up moves from Charlie, who was teeing off well ahead of his father.
He also threw some shade at Team Thomas — Justin Thomas and his father, Mike — after they left their drives in a right-hand bunker on one hole on the back nine. Charlie left a note in the bunker that said “draw hole.”
The entire thing was a delight, mostly Tiger’s genuine reaction to watching his son play so well and have so much fun. And this is the most intriguing part of all of this. Tiger, who has been so self-absorbed — necessarily so — for the last 40 years of the career he was ushered into, stepping outside of his world and into a different one (parenting) and all the joy and sorrow that comes with it. The joyful dad stage of Tiger’s career has been an unexpected delight.
“It was an absolute blast,” Woods told Golf Channel. “… We had so much fun being around one another and cheering one another on. It was the most perfect environment. First and foremost, I’m dad. There is that competitive spirit that Charlie and I both share. We want to win, but being competitive and being with each other and leaning on one another, it was an absolute blast.”
Team Woods trails Matt Kuchar and his son by four strokes going into Sunday, but if the second of two rounds is anything like the first, there aren’t going to be too many people who are looking at (or thinking about) scores. It was a fun, enjoyable (and yes) impressive debut for Charlie on the national stage. He’s very good at golf and played quite well on Saturday in Round 1 of this tournament. And maybe the only thing more fun than watching Charlie bend draws for eagle and spin clubs after great shots was watching his incredibly famous father watch him do it.