Tiger Woods and 13-year-old son Charlie won’t let a bad foot and an injured ankle keep them from playing together in the PNC Championship. The way they played Saturday, they might even win.
The partnership that Woods referred to as ‘Team Ice Bath’ due to their injuries finished with a 13-under 59 in the scramble format, two shots behind Justin Thomas and his father, club professional Mike Thomas.
Team Thomas won the championship belt two years ago, when Woods first introduced Charlie to a nationally televised audience at the PNC Championship.
Tiger Woods (right) fist-pumps his son Charlie, 13, during their impressive start in Florida
Woods watched Charlie’s putt on the 18th green carefully in their opening round
The pair also played together last year at the PNC Championship, coming close to winning
‘They wiped it in our faces at Christmas dinner. They’re in a good position to possibly do it again at Christmas dinner,’ Woods said. ‘But we will have little to say about that.’
Even in the mix, especially the latter group, the father-son duo’s way of wandering around The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando looks vague.
Woods, sidelined from plantar fasciitis in his right foot, chipped in for eagle from behind the fifth green, hit whatever shot was needed and closed out the front nine with putts of 20 feet and 35 feet.
Charlie’s left ankle hurt until he dropped to his knees after he topped his tee shot on the par-5 fifth hole. He rode in a cart with his dad – that’s allowed because the PGA Tour Champions sanctioned it – and even changed shoes on the practice range to see if that would help.
The teenager contributed a wedge to 3 feet for their first birdie, a 20-footer in their big run as they played the eight-hole stretch at 9-under par. Charlie finished the round with a 6-foot birdie putt, bending over to pick up his father’s coin before the ball even hit the cup.
Justin Thomas (center) and his father (right) were two shots ahead of Woods after the first day
Woods both lined up a putt on the first green at the start of their round together in Orlando
Woods admitted he was holding back his recovery from a foot issue to compete with Charlie
‘In some shots, it was very painful. It’s hard to walk,’ said Charlie in his first time in front of the media at this tournament. ‘But it’s fine. It’s not that bad.
They still have to track down Team Thomas, who delivered two eagles and a closing birdie from the bunker for a 15-under 57.
Though Vijay Singh and son Qass were the first to post 59, the last group was Woods and Thomas. Charlie refers to it as a ‘big family,’ as the Thomas family spends a lot of time with them at home. Joe LaCava caddies for Woods and LaCava’s son caddies for Charlie.
“Now you see what we do all the time at home,” Woods said of playing with his son. ‘We’re just having fun. We poke each other. We encourage each other. It goes back and forth. It’s an amazing relationship, and it only deepens the bond between father and son. It’s been incredible over the years to be able to share this stage and this environment with him.’
Lots of chirping.
Charlie made a 20-footer on No. 7 and Thomas told him, ‘Welcome to the Father-Son,’ a reference to the original name of the contest and a chance to rib him for finally contributing to the score.
‘We’re just four friends who go out and play golf,’ says Thomas. ‘Charlie certainly hit his fair share of putts today, so I made sure to remind him of that. He also hit some really, really good putts and shots, so it was good.’
Woods had to withdraw two weeks ago from the Hero World Challenge, and he didn’t look too sharp in a made-for-TV tag team match last week.
Except for the limp, he’s more capable of wielding a golf club.
The father and son are pictured walking down the first fairway after the start of their round
Thomas is the team to beat after the first round at the PNC Championship in Florida
That’s what I’m saying. I can hit the ball, it’s just harder for me to get from Point A to Point B,’ Woods said. ‘I’ve had a frustrating few years. But again, to be a part of this game and do it, I missed being able to compete and play.’
His only goal in 2022 is to play at St. Andrews at the 150th British Open. He ended up playing in three majors and, ‘I get to play with my son.’
Singh and his 32-year-old son were playing for the 16th time, their best finish being a runner-up to Team Thomas in 2020. They birdied seven of their last eight holes for a 59.
Woods said he will begin working on a recovery plan for his right leg on Monday. For now, he gets to spend another day with his son as they try to win for the first time.
‘For him to come out here playing, I know how hard it is for him,’ said Mark O’Meara, who was four back playing with his son. ‘Usually whenever you want Tiger to do something, you just tell him he can’t do it. And usually that’s what he does.
‘I don’t know what the future holds, but it’s cool that he comes and plays with Charlie.’