Tiger Woods’ imitation, the PNC’s best friendship | Rogers Report

Tiger Woods and Will McGee at the PNC Championship

Tiger Woods and Will McGee at the PNC Championship

Claire Rogers

Hello, friends, and welcome to my favorite week of the year: the PNC Championship.

This event is the perfect way to end the golfing year. It’s a feel-good family tournament that gives me (okay, and the rest of the golfing world) something to get excited for before Christmas, and it’s definitely one of the more laid-back tournaments from a coverage perspective. And it helps that the pros have their guards down, which makes for a lot of fun moments — including a few that we’ll get to shortly. I’ll be recapping each day here at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, so allow me to take you back to my arrival on Wednesday.

I flew from Boston to Orlando early on Wednesday morning, picked up my rental car and then (after Wawa lured me in for a quick lunch) headed straight for the course, where I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that our media center had been relocated to the J.W. Marriott. We were in a tent last year, which is a pretty typical tournament setup, but now I’m writing to you all from the finest media setup (non-Augusta National division) on the east coast. We’ve got fancy food, fancy coffee, and if you’re Jon Rahm, you’ll be happy to know we’ve got fancy bathrooms too.

Wednesday and Thursday at the PNC Championship kind of feel like the first few days of school. Only a handful of the pros have arrived for practice rounds, so there’s a good amount of downtime before the real work begins. Everyone’s in a great mood and happy to be on site, so there’s a lot of catching up that happens. The Woods boys didn’t arrive on site until this morning (Friday), and their absence was definitely felt.

My favorite Tiger friendship

You know who was out on the course early in the week, though? Annika Sorenstam’s son, Will McGee. He headed to the course right after school on Tuesday to get some practice in and ended up making a hole-in-one!

McGee’s week started off perfectly and it’s still going pretty well. He and Tiger warmed up together on the chipping green while the 15-time major champion queried McGee about his junior golf schedule. When Sorenstam came over to check on her son, she asked Tiger if McGee was listening to him. Tiger smiled and said, “Other way around. I’m listening to him!”

Woods and McGee continued their chat on the way to the practice bunker, like old pals. The Rogers Report is officially giving McGee the inside track for MVP of this event. Not only is he pals with the 82-time PGA Tour winner, he’s probably the most stylish guy on site, decked out in Greyson gear and sporting some very cool Air Jordan 11 CMFT Lows. During a backup on the 10th tee, McGee told Tiger he was nervous on the first tee today. Tiger told him that he should be nervous because it means he cares. As someone who isn’t particularly cool, who isn’t a good player and whose parent isn’t a professional golfer, I have just about nothing in common with Sorenstam’s son. But it’s still a whole lot of fun to watch him hang out with the Woods guys.

Tiger Woods and Will McGee
Tiger Woods and Will McGee Claire Rogers

I saw Tiger greet a lot of people today — players and their families, caddies, media members and more — and I don’t think he lights up with any of them as much as he does when he sees Sorenstam. He exclaimed “Ani!” as he went in for a hug and asked her how she’s been.

Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods
Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods Claire Rogers

Tiger imitates Steve Stricker

During his warm-ups, Tiger kind of holds office hours at the PNC Championship. He does his thing, and every few minutes someone will go up to him to say hi. He gave Steve Stricker a big hug while asking about his family. Two seconds later, Woods was mimicking Stricker’s swing in front of him and (I think?) purposely duffed a chip.

Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker
Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker Claire Rogers
Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker
Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker Claire Rogers

Also, I’d be remiss not to mention just how cool the Strickers are. Their whole family is involved this week. Steve and his daughter, Izzi, are teeing it up together while his other daughter, Bobbi, and his wife, Nikki are on caddie duty. Unfortunately, my siblings and I are not talented enough to have this sort of family outing together; what we do best as a group is stare at our individual phone screens.

Charlie and his caddie

The Woods guys did most of their warm-ups separately today. Charlie’s got his high school teammate and pal, Luke Wise, on his bag this week, and Rob McNamara is looping for Tiger again. Tiger put the staff bag away for the week, which is great news for McNamara. Luckily the rain held off during the Pro-Am, because McNamara said he made the game-time decision to leave the rain gear in the car today.

Tiger Woods with Charlie's caddie
Tiger Woods with Charlie’s caddie Claire Rogers

I wonder what percent normal this feels for Wise this week. He probably spends a good amount of time with the Woods boys, but doing so on national television has to feel kind of crazy. For me, the weirdest thing about walking around with Tiger’s team is how normal it all feels. Rob McNamara is super kind, Charlie is extremely polite and everybody else is as welcoming as they come.

My absolute favorite thing about the PNC Championship is how we get to see Tiger’s personality a little bit more than usual. He had chicken tenders and fries for lunch all week at the 2022 PNC, and today was no different.

The 10th tee offers some of the best people-watching at the PNC thanks to the fact that there’s always a group or two waiting on the tee box. As a player that might be annoying, but as an onlooker, it’s perfect. Tiger chucked a piece of a chicken tender at Charlie while they waited, and they caught up with Sorenstam and Mcgee during that time as well.

I know they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, so it shouldn’t be too surprising for you all to learn that Charlie was making the same type of jokes his dad makes on the course today.

Unlike last year, Tiger walked the whole round today, which allowed for us all to get a lot closer to him as he moved throughout the course. Close enough that I overheard him tell Charlie that he was going to give the people on television something to talk about before pulling out his driver to hit one off the deck.

Upon hearing that, Charlie said, “you’ve gotta be kidding me.” That’s a classic teenage response to a parent doing something embarrassing. I used to say the same thing when my parents forced me to take one more photo on Easter Sunday, cheered a little too loud at my high school basketball games or made one too many jokes in front of my friends. Charlie, I promise that people loved watching your dad hit it off the deck. I guess no parent is immune to getting that response from their high schooler.

claire rogers

Claire Rogers

Golf.com Editor