If there was any doubt that we’ve transitioned into a new stage of Tiger Woods’ pro golf career, this week answered in a quietly emphatic way. Woods was not on hand in Charlotte, where American golf’s brightest minds and best players were busy at the Presidents Cup.
Woods was involved, rest assured, but from afar, weighing in on pairings and matchups over the phone, just as he provided remote inspiration from during the U.S.’s victorious Ryder Cup run last year.
Instead of being on-site in North Carolina, Woods was actually with his family, following around his son, Charlie, at a 36-hole qualifier for the Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championship. And, it appears, helping lead Charlie to plenty of success. The 13-year-old carded a four-under 68 Sunday, the lowest score of his career.
We wouldn’t be so quick to associate Woods with his son’s success, but Charlie did it himself. Speaking in an interview with Ryan Burr, broadcaster and part owner of the Notah Begay event, Charlie was asked: “Yesterday ends, today starts a new day. How did you reset and come out and play such stellar golf?”
That yesterday Burr was referencing was a first-round 80 that placed him in the middle of the field.
“Well, Dad told me to stay patient,” Charlie said. “Just play steady golf. Just stay patient, play, focus on each shot, don’t look too far ahead. Stay in the game.”
It’s sound advice for anyone in tournament golf, whether it’s coming from Tiger Woods or your 15-handicap golf buddy. And, no, we’re not treating this like it’s a major championship. It’s merely a qualifier in central Florida for a junior national championship where Tiger Woods could impart some lessons on his teenage son.
Charlie didn’t advance to the main event, but he did nearly make an albatross as well as nearly pull off an epic comeback. Tiger followed along in a cart all weekend, as parents are permitted to do, and helped guide Charlie whenever needed.
“That was awesome,” Charlie said having his father in his corner. “I couldn’t have done it without him. Like some shots, I would have been so off. But he steered me in the right course.”
In an odd way, this time of the calendar year has become one where Woods is the most publicly visible. The last two years we’ve seen him and Charlie take part in the PNC Championship, an event where major champions pair up with their sons, daughters or parents, competing over 36 holes in a team event in Orlando.
Last year’s PNC was particularly intriguing as Tiger was returning to some form of competition after the February 2021 car accident that severely impacted his ability to walk, let alone play golf. Until that point, Woods had not made much for public appearances, but Tiger and his son quickly became the stars of the show as they challenged John Daly and his son for the title. They eventually came up just two shots short but stirred some life into what is typically a quiet time of the golf year.
Even after a limited workload from Tiger in 2022, the kind of schedule he said we can expect him to play moving forward, it’s reasonable to expect Team Woods to take part in the PNC Championship again in December. Woods will host his own Hero World Challenge event once again during the first week of December, with the PNC taking place just two weeks after that. If he plays in the former, it’s certainly likely he’ll also compete again in the latter.