PNC Championship Round up - Charlie is a chip off the old block
Justin Thomas and his father, Mike, won the PNC Championship but it was an 11-year-old boy who stole everybody’s hearts. Charlie Woods, the son of 15-time major champion Tiger turns out to be a chip off the old block.
Team Thomas birdied the opening seven holes and the father delivered a five-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that gave them a 15-under 57 in the scramble format and a one-shot victory over Vijay Singh and son Qass. They won the Willie Park Trophy.
But the real winners were Tiger and Charlie. “These are memories we'll have for our entire lives,” Woods said after he and Charlie posted a 62 to finish seventh. “He's not going to appreciate this at 11 years old. I didn't when I was with my dad. As the years go by, you start appreciating it more.”
Woods and his son dressed in his traditional Sunday red with black trousers. They played the final six holes in six under par. Thomas has grown close to Woods and talked in the days leading up to this event about how badly Charlie wants to beat him.
Mike Thomas said young Woods Jr took $1 off him on the putting green on Saturday afternoon. Mike Thomas specialises in working with juniors and spends time with Charlie when he's in Florida.
When his father holed the birdie putt, Thomas said he knew there were 10 teams still on the course and it still felt as though the tournament was over.
“A part of you didn't care who won,” he said. “We were here as father and son to enjoy a special moment.”
That's what Alastair Johnston, the vice chairman at IMG, had in mind when he created this tournament 25 years ago. It started as the Father-Son Challenge. It since has changed into major champions and Players Championship winners competing with a family member — son, daughter, father-in-law, grandson.
The idea was that golf fans would be curious to see the children of great players. Throw in the 11-year-old son of golf's biggest star, and interest surged to new levels.
“I'd like to find the right way to tell Charlie that thousands of kids watching at home will be inspired to want to play golf with their dads,” Johnston said. “He wouldn't appreciate it now. But one day he might.”
The PNC Championship has the strongest waiting list in golf, and it's always been that way. Newcomers to the field this year included Woods and Thomas, Bubba Watson and Mark Calcavecchia.
Calcavecchia played with his son Eric. When they finished, the former Open champion who has been trying to get in the tournament for seven years was asked how it went. “Nothing short of amazing,” Calcavecchia said. “I'm kind of sad it's over. I feel like a little kid when the carnival leaves town.”
That's about how it felt for Woods. His son played from tee markers more than 100 yards ahead in some cases, and Woods often waited for Charlie to hit his drive. More times than not, Charlie would look back give him the thumbs-up and Woods didn't even bother hitting his shot.
“I'm proud of how he handled everything,” Woods said. He said it was “without a doubt” the most fun he's had on the golf course this year. Woods played only nine times because of the COVID-19 pandemic and only once finished in the top 10. But he wasn't about to rank the week with other big moments in his remarkable career. He said the idea was to enjoy the experience together, “and we did that.”
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