A red-and-black-clad Woods tore up the course at the PNC Championship Sunday … and it wasn't Tiger.
Twelve-year-old Charlie Woods officially stepped onto golf's world stage Sunday afternoon. He might become a professional golfer in his father's footsteps, or he might just end up playing the game for fun. Either way, right now he's the talk of the sport, and justifiably so.
Tiger and Charlie fell to the duo of John Daly and son John Daly II, but the tournament came down to the final two holes of the weekend. That was a result even the most optimistic of Tiger fans couldn't have predicted even a few days ago, with Tiger still recovering from his February car wreck injuries and Charlie being, well, 12 years old.
Team Woods began the day three strokes off the lead, but started the day with two birdies and an eagle. Then, starting on the seventh, Team Woods rolled in 11 straight birdies to claim a share of the lead with one hole remaining.
"We got on a run, which was great," Woods said afterward. "Charlie was hitting the ball unbelievably. He made a few putts. It got interesting and tight toward the end. It was fun." In the end, Team Woods finished at -25 for the two-day scramble, while Team Daly claimed the championship at -27, a tournament record.
Charlie's finest moment of the day came on the par-3 17th, when he dropped his tee shot to within six feet of the cup. It was one of the few holes that Charlie played from the same distance as the older pros, but that didn't matter; Charlie rolled in the putt for a birdie that tied Team Daly.
Things wobbled a bit for Team Woods on the 18th hole; Charlie's shots finally started looking like the wayward swings of a 12-year-old, and Tiger couldn't quite roll in a long birdie putt that would have tied the lead. Given a one-stroke cushion heading to the par-5 18th, Team Daly finished off the tournament with a birdie.
Worth noting: Tiger Woods and John Daly have done battle before, most notably at a playoff at the 2005 WGC at Harding Park. Daly missed a 3-footer to win, and he hasn't won a PGA Tour event since. But at long last, he got a tiny measure of revenge.
"We thought we were going to have to birdie every hole on the back nine to have a chance, and it turned out to be that way," Woods said. "What a blast it was."
It's tough to overstate what a significant weekend this was for one of golf's greatest players. Yes, the PNC Championship is basically a club championship, a hit-and-giggle with national television coverage. That's not the point. The fact that Tiger is on the course swinging a club at all is astounding, given the traumatic injuries he suffered during a one-car February wreck. And the calm and precision that Charlie showed throughout the weekend were uncanny … and familiar.
It would be easy to make too much of Charlie's performance, and several of the announcers on Sunday's telecast fawned over Charlie to an unsettling degree. The kid's 12 years old; weighing him down with the burden of carrying on his father's legacy is a little much. But what Charlie does is humanize Tiger, giving Woods a chance to relive his own early pre-pro days while motivating him to return to the golf course after the accident. Maybe Woods won't ever win another major, or another tournament, but he'll clearly be back on the course for real one day.
"I'm just happy and thankful I'm able to do this, to still have my own leg — that was questionable for awhile — and it's functioning," Woods said. "I'm just really tired. I'm not used to this. I'm worn out."
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at [email protected]
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