Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

Like father, like son

Charlie Woods' game is bigger and stronger; Tiger is more impressed by something else

December 16, 2022

Charlie Woods plays a shot during the Friday pro-am as a preview for the 2022 PNC Championship.

David Cannon

ORLANDO — Last week during The Match, commentator Trevor Immelman put Tiger Woods on the spot with a simple question: Is Charlie outdriving you yet?

"I hate to say it, but I'm going to admit it. He finally did it," Tiger said. "I spun one, he tomahawked one and got me."

It's not hard to see why. Charlie Woods comes into this year's PNC Championship looking a little different than in year's past. Specifically, bigger.

Charlie is 13 now. He's taller, and he's filled out his skinny frame with more muscle. And when he hits shots, contact sounds different than it used to. There's more pop these days.

So, if he can sneak one past his dad, how far can Charlie actually send it? During Friday's pro-am at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, I watched him catch one on the 10th hole that traveled 279 yards, with roll. It snuck past a bunker and left him a little wedge into the green.

But in many ways topline speed doesn't tell the full story of Charlie or any junior golfer's game.

On the next hole, Charlie lost one out to the right. It found the right side of the fairway, but traveled 232 yards, about 40 yards shorter than his driver just a hole earlier.

Charlie's 255-yard average on the admittedly small sample size of two drives puts him above average for his age, and no matter which way you cut it, is impressive. But asked about Charlie's new build, and the distance he's capable of producing because of it, Tiger didn't focus on his distance. Yes, he's gotten bigger and stronger, but when Tiger looks at his son's game, and how it's developed, there's a bigger change he's been more impressed by.

Learning to improve the bad shots

"Playing tournament golf, you've got to make a switch on the fly and trust it," Tiger says. "And that's where I've seen the biggest growth when I've caddied for him in events or I've watched him play. I can see him rehearsing shots, trying to get out of a certain pattern."

Ultimately, that's been a more impressive development in Charlie's game than his distance increase, Tiger says. Learning to play golf, on the good and the bad days. To know what causes shots like his second drive, so his bad drives look more like his good drives.

"I always tell him why we're doing what we're doing, so that he can retrace the steps. And when he gets a little off, now he knows what to go back to and understand that," he says. "Understanding how to fix it when on the fly when I'm not around, it's what I was taught by my dad."