Tiger Woods as a competing golfer is officially back. Less than 10 months after suffering serious injuries during a car crash, Woods is set to compete alongside his son Charlie at the PNC Championship next weekend in Orlando.
Woods’ involvement had been rumored for the past few weeks since he posted his first swing video and captioned it “making progress” on Nov. 21. GOLF.com reported late last week that Woods was seriously considering playing but that he needed to continue hitting balls and testing his body. It appears that all went well with Woods’ testing and we’ll now see him hit many shots down in Florida, with both weekend rounds televised by NBC and Golf Channel.
“Although it’s been a long and challenging year, I am very excited to close it out by competing in the PNC Championship with my son Charlie,” Woods said in a tweet. “I’m playing as a Dad and couldn’t be more excited and proud.”
The PNC is a two-round event with multiple pro-am rounds on Thursday and Friday (Dec. 16-17) before official competition begins on Saturday. As was widely covered, Tiger and Charlie competed in this event last year, which had moments of hilarity (with Charlie trolling Justin Thomas), and others filled with emotion (like a father and son embracing). It was plenty clear watching Charlie in 2020 just who his dad is. The mannerisms, the way he fills his pockets, etc. Michael Bamberger covered it all for GOLF.com here. Team Woods actually got a close up look at the winners last year, playing in the pro-am alongside Justin Thomas and his father Mike, who won the tournament just days later. While the event is not an official PGA Tour competition, it is still a serious step for Woods’ comeback.
The 15-time major champion told the press recently that he is not able to grind in practice sessions as much as he used to. “It’s my reality, and I’ve accepted it,” Woods told Golf Digest last week. But he added he can still chip and putt with the best of them. That self-diagnosis didn’t keep Woods from practicing on the range during much of last week’s Hero World Challenge, an event he hosts in the Bahamas.
While Woods is admittedly not yet ready for full-fledged PGA Tour competition, the PNC is a middle ground he can take part in. It’s a two-man scramble event where Woods won’t have to trudge back to play the tees that, say, Justin Thomas will play from. He can if he wants to, but there’s the built in option for Team Woods to play their second shots from wherever Charlie’s tee shot finishes.
So, what does it all mean?
The announcement simply means that Woods is as far along as we thought he might be, but much further than we all thought a month ago. It confirms that his range sessions down in the Bahamas were real testing sessions, not for-the-cameras proof-of-life exhibits. Woods would not be playing this event if his son wasn’t into the idea, either. This is a Team Woods, happy-go-lucky event … that just so happens to be played on national television.
Woods has repeatedly said that he intends to continue rehabbing his body in hopes of playing the PGA Tour again, though on a very limited schedule. He invoked the schedule that Ben Hogan used to play — just a few events a year — following a horrific accident of his own. Does that mean we’ll see Woods play in January? At the Masters? Before the summer? Only Tiger and the future knows. Until then, watch and enjoy and keep the expectations just as low as Woods is keeping them himself.