The media statement Tiger Woods put out this time last month wasn’t about his showing at the just-concluded Masters. Considering that he limped to a one-under tally following a final-round 76, he was wise not to comment on a 38th-place finish that left him a whopping 19 strokes behind newly minted champion Dustin Johnson. Instead, he disclosed “how excited I am to be playing with Charlie in our first official tournament together.” He was, of course, referring to his son (who, not coincidentally, was last in the limelight when he won the Green Jacket against all odds in 2019) and their impending participation at the PNC Championship.
Normally, casual observers would loathe to mention the two tournaments in the same sentence. However, Woods’ tenor in his press release showed exactly where his sentiments lay: He was pumped to compete with Charlie in a father-son event headlined by major champions out for bragging rights and psychic income. As he noted, “it’s been great watching him progress as a junior golfer, and it will be incredible playing as a team together.” And, given how their first competitive round as a pair turned out yesterday, “incredible” proved to be on the mark.
Indeed, the Woods partnership, along with Mike and Justin Thomas, became the most-watched flight of first-day festivities at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida. On-site spectators consisting of other participants and their plus-ones numbered in the hundreds, and all wound up thoroughly impressed by Charlie’s performance. In fact, he carried his father for much of the day — including on the third hole, where he carded an eagle using his own ball under a scramble format. The player with 15 Grand Slam tournament wins often became mere spectator, albeit an appreciative one.
Woods remained giddy in the aftermath, his pride evident with every word. Even as he admitted that “I don’t really care about my game,” he gushed when delving on Charlie’s own. “It couldn’t have been a better environment,” he said, and not because they posted a 10-under 62 that had them in sixth and four strokes behind the pace with 18 holes to go. “He hit some of the most incredible golf shots. He had the best time.” Echoed Mike Thomas, “He was impressive. Very impressive.” Added Justin, “I wasn’t surprised. I knew he was going to wow a lot of people. It was cool to see him shape shots, hit it both ways.”
Needless to say, Charlie’s future is both bright and uncertain. What’s clear, though, is that him beaming elder won’t unnecessarily subject him to the limelight. Meanwhile, he has every right to delight in his progress. He’s only 11, but eyes are already on him with ample reason.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.