Tiger Woods’ 11-year-old son Charlie showed the world that putting prowess runs in the family as he made his national TV debut at the PNC Championship.
Charlie put on an impressive display on Saturday at Florida’s Ritz-Carlton Club at Grande Lakes in front of an audience that included his 15-time master champion dad, about 250 fans on the course and thousands more watching from home.
The budding golf star confidently twirled his club before shots, quickly picked up the tee on his drives and even pumped his fist on the par-5 third hole with a 3-wood into three feet for eagle.
Charlie and his dad finished the scramble format at 10-under 62, four shots behind Matt Kuchar and son Cameron going into day two on Sunday.
‘I don’t really care about my game,’ Woods told reporters after the first round on Saturday. ‘I’m just making sure that Charlie has the time of his life. And he’s doing that.’
At one point it appeared Charlie may have been having a little too much fun, as he was filmed trash-talking a competing father-son duo after a botched swing.
Youngest competitor in the field.
Biggest trash-talker. 😂 pic.twitter.com/hjH0wtHUaB
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 19, 2020
Charlie Woods, the son of Tiger and his ex-wife Elin Nordegren, is the youngest to play in this 36-hole event that began in 1995 for major champions and their sons, and now includes all family members.
He loves the game enough to start playing in a few junior events, and he had no qualms playing before a crowd or the cameras.
A television camera was positioned some 15 feet away to the right of Charlie on the opening tee, and he was a little quick with his swing, pulling it to the left. They used his father’s tee shot and wedge into two feet – Charlie made the birdie putt.
That was the last time Team Woods used Tiger’s tee shot on a long hole until No. 15. It helped that the 11-year-old was able to use a forward tee, 100 yards ahead of the PGA Tour players on some holes.
The kid had game in other ways, too.
During the pro-am, Charlie hit one through the fairway into the trees. Mike Thomas, a longtime club professional whose specialty is working with juniors, was in the group ahead and playfully left a note next to Charlie’s ball that said, ‘Draw Hole!’ On Saturday, Mike Thomas hit his drive into a bunker on the short par-4 13th.
‘In typical Woods’ fashion, he kept the paper,’ Justin Thomas said. ‘My dad hit in the bunker, and he took that exact paper and put it behind the ball. So a little karma there.’
Justin Thomas spends a lot of time with them at home, so he knew how the kid could play. Even so, Thomas said he a different kind of nerves – for his dad and for Charlie.
‘I knew he was going to wow a lot of people,’ Thomas said. ‘It was cool to see him shape the ball both ways and hit great shots. We feel probably what our parents felt growing up watching us play. You want them to do well, but you can’t do anything about it.
‘It was competitive, it was joyful, it was memorable and we had some banter.’
They finished with a birdie on the par-5 18th – across the water left of the fairway, a small group of people posted a banner on the bridge that said, ‘Charlie Woods Fan Club – and were tied for sixth.
‘The kid’s a gamer. He’s a grinder. He’s competitive. But he’s so young,’ Justin Thomas said. ‘I’m pulling for him. I want him to keep it fun, keep it light. It can get nasty out there with what people say. Expectations are going to be high, but I hope it remains manageable for himself. I hope he stays within himself.
‘There’s 11-, 12-, 13-year-olds sitting on their couch at home that can’t hit those shots on the range. And he’s doing it in front of a crowd and on national TV.’
Woods was by his son’s side again for the final round on Sunday – both wearing his signature red polo shirts to cap off the tournament.