‘I want to win’: Charlie Woods qualifies for U.S. Junior Amateur

charlie woods and tiger woods stand next to each other in pink shirts

Charlie Woods qualified for a slot in the U.S. Junior Amateur championship on Wednesday.

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Golf is a family affair for Tiger Woods, and now apparently something else is too: USGA Championships.

On Wednesday evening, Charlie Woods, the 15-year-old son of the 15-time major champion, became the second member of the Woods family to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. The younger Woods shot a one-under score of 71 to secure medalist honors at the Eagle Trace Golf Club qualifier in Coral Springs, Fla., grabbing one of 264 spots in the field of the junior game’s most prestigious championship.

According to the USGA, Woods overcame a bogey-double start in the qualifier by recording five birdies over his last 16 holes, finishing in first place in the qualifying event by one shot.

“I didn’t play great my first two holes, but I played really good for the last 16,” the younger Woods said Wednesday. “I just told myself not to make any more bogeys or doubles and I took advantage of some nice birdie looks when I had them. Putting was my biggest strength today. I made a lot of putts when I needed to.”

Tiger’s only son has reached cult levels of fame among golf fans in the years following his debut at the parent-child PNC Championship. That fame has only grown as his junior golf career has continued to take off in Southern Florida, but it’s also transitioned. After Charlie’s dazzling (and eerily Tigeresque) debut brought his golf game into focus, the youngest Woods has shifted in the spotlight, spending the last several months as his father’s swing coach du jour.

“I trust him with my swing and my game,” Tiger said at last week’s U.S. Open. “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 my 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.”

If nothing else, the U.S. Junior Amateur serves as a reminder that the youngest Woods’ competitive career forges on. Charlie has had several unsuccessful competitive opportunities in recent months, including a failed attempt at a Monday Qualifier into his hometown PGA Tour event, the Cognizant Classic. Late last year, his high school coach Toby Harbeck spoke with GOLF.com about his development as a player.

“There’s certain pins you don’t want to go after, and he goes after everything. When I can break him of that a little bit, he’s going to become a much better player,” Harbeck said, but… “He can bomb it out there 300-plus in a heartbeat. He’s got a different mode — sometimes it’s a nice easy swing, and then sometimes he puts it on ultra-mode and he can just fly it.”

Now the focus is set to shift again at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan, where the younger Woods will play for the U.S. Junior Amateur, the same event his father won three times as a junior golfer. Woods’ performance will be the subject of great scrutiny in his first big-time event — and he says that’s just the way he likes it.

“It feels amazing to qualify for my first USGA championship,” he said. “The USGA means a lot to me. I want to win USGA championships and hopefully one day the U.S. Open.”

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.

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