Tiger Woods, Son Charlie Shoot 10 Under in Opening Round at PNC Championship

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 18, 2021

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 18: Tiger Woods and Charlie Woods line up a putt during round one of the PNC Championship at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club Grande Lakes on December 18, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Playing his first competitive round of golf in a year, Tiger Woods showed some glimpses of his old self at the 2021 PNC Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday.

Tiger teamed with his 12-year-old son, Charlie, in the first round of the tournament, which features major champions competing alongside family members in a scramble format.

Woods had not competed in a golf tournament since last year's PNC Championship, which marked the first time he and Charlie teamed up. Tiger underwent back surgery a few days after the 2020 PNC Championship and then suffered multiple injuries in a serious car crash in February.

There were questions regarding whether the 15-time major champion would ever golf again after the crash, making his return this weekend a huge moment in the sport.

While Tiger merely playing at all was a bigger deal than his overall performance, he and Charlie performed well and ended the day in a tie for fifth place with a score of 10-under.

The Woods family carded 10 birdies in the round and trail the leaders, Stewart and Reagan Cink, by three strokes entering the final round.

While all eyes were on Tiger, Charlie stole the show in many respects at last year's PNC Championship thanks to his strong play and Tiger-like mannerisms, and that was the case at times Saturday as well.

Tiger and Charlie were paired with Justin Thomas and his father, Mike, who won the tournament last year. Before the teams teed off, Justin and Tiger had a funny exchange regarding how much Tiger would be leaning on his son:

Dylan Dethier @dylan_dethier

Justin Thomas to Tiger on the first tee:<br><br>“So you’re just gonna have Charlie carry you guys, huh?”<br><br>Tiger: “Yeah. I kinda feel bad for him.”

That was immediately followed by a great drive and approach from Charlie and a birdie make from Tiger on the first hole:


Charlie smokes a drive<br>Charlie nails the approach<br>Tiger sinks the putt<br><br>Team Woods with a birdie to start <a href="https://twitter.com/PNCchampionship?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PNCChampionship</a>. <a href="https://t.co/P9bTHKwsPX">pic.twitter.com/P9bTHKwsPX</a>

Charlie was great off the tee throughout the round, leading to Thomas having some fun by examining his driver:

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

Charlie has the hot hand with the driver. <br><br>JT wanted to check out his driver. 👀 <a href="https://t.co/8VWsAYYzMR">pic.twitter.com/8VWsAYYzMR</a>

The younger Woods got the job done on the green as well, nailing a birdie putt on No. 4 and punctuating it with his dad's signature putter raise:


Fourth hole in and the putter raise comes out!<br><br>Charlie Woods is feeling it. <a href="https://t.co/dykynVhfVQ">pic.twitter.com/dykynVhfVQ</a>

While Charlie did a lot of the heavy lifting Saturday with his dad still progressing in his recovery, Tiger raised some eyebrows at times as well.

Some of his most impressive work came off the tee, which was surprising since it was assumed his injuries would drain his power.

Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner noted that on the fifth hole, Tiger's ball speed was right where he would need it to be in a traditional round on the PGA Tour:

Ryan Lavner @RyanLavnerGC

171-mph ball speed for Tiger on the 5th hole. <br><br>That’s exactly the Tour average — the same as world No. 2 Collin Morikawa.

Later, on No. 11, Tiger cranked an excellent drive with power and precision down the middle of the fairway:

Golf Channel @GolfChannel

🗣️ "Back on the tee is Tiger." 🐅<a href="https://twitter.com/TigerWoods?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TigerWoods</a> // <a href="https://twitter.com/PNCchampionship?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PNCchampionship</a> <br><br>📺 Watch NOW on NBC and <a href="https://twitter.com/peacockTV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@peacockTV</a><br>💻 <a href="https://t.co/sIWK603weB">https://t.co/sIWK603weB</a> <a href="https://t.co/6zoMV5P41i">pic.twitter.com/6zoMV5P41i</a>

Alex Myers of Golf Digest marveled at the fact that Woods outdrove Thomas, who is the world's No. 6 player, on the hole:

Alex Myers @AlexMyers3

Tiger Woods just out-drove Justin Thomas. I mean, how is that even possible?!

With both Tiger and Charlie playing well, they started to make a move up the leaderboard over the course of the back nine.

Charlie sunk a long birdie putt on No. 15, marking the third consecutive birdie for the father-son duo and getting them to nine-under:


For three birdies in a row ...<br><br>Charlie drains it.<br><br>Team Woods is 9-under thru 15. <a href="https://t.co/bv8jubMHRy">pic.twitter.com/bv8jubMHRy</a>

Tiger and Charlie parred the next two holes before closing out with a birdie on the par-five 18th, punctuating a strong day for the duo.

The PNC Championship is generally about fun and entertainment more than actual competition, and there is no question that Tiger and Charlie kept golf fans entertained Saturday.

At the same time, Tiger likely provided fans with hope that he will be able to compete again at a high level in the future.

While Tiger has made it clear that he will never be a full-time golfer again, the progress he has made so far in his recovery suggests he could potentially be in the mix at major tournaments in the future.