Tiger Woods has given himself one last chance to ensure that 2020 is not a winless year on the PGA Tour - by entering next month’s PNC Championship alongside his son, Charlie.
Considering how guarded Woods has always been with his private life, nobody ever expected to see Woods play in the unique Tour event where 20 major winners compete as a team alongside a family member. Yet there he is on the startling list together with his 11-year-old boy.
The pair are set to drive interest in the three-day Orlando event to unprecedented heights when it takes place on Dec 17-20. The tournament is aired live on US network NBC and past champions include Jack Nicklaus, Ray Floyd, Davis Love and defending title-holder Bernhard Langer with Jason.
The latter is 20 and that is the normal age of the offspring. Charlie is exceptionally young by the tournament's usual standards. However, although the exposure will be huge, the event at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club will be played behind closed doors due to Covid-19.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be playing with Charlie in our first official tournament together,” Woods said via a statement. “It’s been great watching him progress as a junior golfer and it will be incredible playing as a team together in the PNC Championship.”
While Woods has suffered an indifferent campaign - his tie for 38th at the Masters on Sunday featuring a 10 on the par-three 12th, his biggest score ever on a single holes in 24 years as a pro - Charlie has been scorching up the South Florida Juniors Section, winning back-to-back titles in August by a combined margin of eight shots.
Woods was on the bag and Charlie was the only player in his age division to shoot under par. “He’s starting to get into it,” Woods said. “He’s starting to understand how to play. He’s asking me the right questions. I’ve kept it competitive with his par, so it’s been just an absolute blast to go out there and just be with him... it reminds me so much of me and my dad.”
When asked if his son could emulate him, Woods replied: “I don’t know. It depends how bad he wants it. It’s all on him. I wanted it at a very, very early age. I wanted to compete and play in this game. That’s on him, whether he wants it or not.”
Alastair Johnston, the former Rangers chairman who is executive chairman of the tournament, has revealed that he first raised the idea with Woods after his first major win at the 1997 Masters.
“Tiger and I were next door neighbours at Isleworth and after his momentous victory at the Masters that year, when he returned home, I offered him my congratulations,” Johnston, the long-time IMG executive, said.
“However, I did not reference his amazing performance at Augusta but advised him that as a newly-minted major champion, he had now qualified to participate in the Father/Son Challenge! He was somewhat bemused at the time, but 23 years later, we will welcome him knowing very well that he will not be driven by nostalgia but will be on a mission to add to his commendable list of titles, but this time having the chance to share one with his son.”