Tiger looking healthy, Charlie hitting BOMBS and everything else you missed from Team Woods' Friday PNC Pro-Am
Charlie Woods and Tiger Woods stand on the first tee ahead of the PNC Championship pro-am.
ORLANDO — Thursday at the PNC Championship was about as chill as it gets when it comes to a professional golf event. Then, on Friday, Tiger and Charlie Woods arrived.
While the mob scene made the vibe decidedly less chill, you wouldn't know it by the way Tiger was carrying himself. The man was all smiles, soaking in every second of another week of competing with his son.
The real competition doesn't begin until Saturday, when Team Woods and Team Thomas (Justin and father Mike) tee off at 8:22 am ET. Tee times were moved up in the hope of getting in the first round as soon as possible, as there is some bad weather looming for the entire weekend. Friday's wind-blown pro-am was still action-packed, though. Below is everything you may have missed.
• As is tradition, Woods' arrival to any property is akin to the arrival of a sitting president. The PGA Tour captured footage of Tiger and Charlie making their way out of the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club parking lot and on to the putting green, both in long sleeves on a chilly Florida morning. Tiger was wearing his classic black Nike sweater and TW logo'd hat, which made it really start to sink in that this could be the final week we see the 15-time major champion in Nike gear. That rumor has only continued to gain steam with Charlie donning a Greyson pullover on Friday. You know who else wears Greyson apparel? Tiger's best bud, Justin Thomas. The hints are all there, folks.
• While bouncing from the putting green to the chipping area to the range, Tiger received bear hug after bear hug from some old friends and fellow golf legends. It started with his old pal Mark O'Meara, then Annika Sorenstam, and then Steve Stricker. It felt like a nice little reunion of sorts. Each time Tiger lit up with a smile. He also had some really cool moments with Sorenstam's son, Will McGee, with whom he hit a few chips, and John Daly's son/clone, John Daly II. Daly Sr. was nowhere to be found on the range, which caused Tiger to tell Little John, "Man, all you got to do is show up on time," as a little jab at his pops.
• Tiger and Charlie's warmup session was truly a sight to behold, but there was no better moment than when they were each working on mega flop shots from just off the green at the chipping area. It's hard to describe to regular people just how impossible hitting that type of shot is on dormant Bermuda grass, and Team Woods made them look effortless. In fairness, they both play a little bit down here in Florida, not to mention they are both OK at golf. One Charlie high lobber caused Tiger to say "we're ending on that, that was f---ing NASTY." As good as it gets content-wise.
• Tiger's walk looks phenomenal. He was practically storming around the property all day. They actually could have taken carts, just like a number of groups did on Friday, but Tiger and Charlie decided to walk instead. Obviously, that's an excellent sign for his 2024 outlook on the PGA Tour. Tiger's caddie, longtime business partner and right-hand man Rob McNamara, said they would have walked all weekend, too, if it wasn't for the weather. Everyone will be in carts on Saturday morning in the interest of getting in Round 1 as fast as possible before the weather rolls in. Oddly enough, Tiger also said after the round that walking is better for his back anyway than sitting in a cart. "I just wanted to keep it loose and keep it going," he said. "And we're just having so much fun, it doesn't really matter. We had a good time doing it."
• Charlie hits BOMBS. On Thursday, Golf Channel's Todd Lewis reported that he'd be backing up a tee box due to his age, and if you thought that would be a problem for Charlie he erased any doubt with the big stick on Friday. The first hole is 387 yards, and Charlie smoked a fade right down the pipe that left he and dad with less than 100 yards into the green (scramble format). Charlie wound up hitting a wedge to inside of 20 feet and then he made the putt for a natural birdie. It's hard to tell exactly how far Charlie was moving it with no ShotTracker for this week, but it sure seemed like a number of his drives were going 300-plus. Insane stuff. Justin Thomas even commented on Golf Channel that he believes Charlie is longer than him now. Tiger made the same comment after his round.
• The "like father, like son!" market is completely saturated right now, but this recoil was too good not to share. Wonder where he learned this one (from his dad... he learned it from his dad):
• OK, this was pretty crazy too:
• Tiger was taking Friday extremely seriously. On the first tee he showed Charlie's caddie "points of reference" for the weekend (AKA targets they should be aiming for). This continued on a number of tee boxes, and Tiger constantly had the yardage laser out for his own points of reference too. The man has been scheming and gameplanning his entire career. This week, as fun and laid back as it is, is no exception.
• Tiger mentioned after the round that he just doesn't have all the shots that he used too. What NBA fans call a "deep bag." Hilarious, considering he smoked a driver off the deck on a downslope, which yielded a "you've got to be kidding me" reaction out of Chuck:
• One area he still absolutely has all the shots is his wedge game. It's blowing down here in Florida, as always, and Tiger was flighting wedges down throughout the round and landing them all right around the hole. Distance control like you read about. He will always be a wizard with the wedges.
• The good stuff:
• We'll leave you with this—count me among those who officially believe Tiger will win again. And not "some time in the future." In 2024. Between the walk, the wedge game, the speed/power fade with the driver, the fact Jon Rahm and a number of other stars might not be on the PGA Tour at all in 2024, etc., there's no reason he can't get it done again. He's Tiger freaking Woods. Why would you ever doubt him?