Just 10 months after a near-fatal car accident, Tiger Woods and 12-year-old son Charlie nearly pulled off a miracle at the PNC Championship
Coming into the PNC Championship, there was a lot of talk about the things Tiger Woods couldn’t do. He couldn’t walk the course, he admitted freely. He didn’t have anywhere close to his usual power.
But then he, along with 12-year-old son Charlie, showed what he still can do better than anyone. What a near-fatal car accident and months in a hospital bed didn’t take away. He still had that fiery determination, the touch on the greens, and a maniacal will to win.
Woods nearly pulled it off on Sunday, he and Charlie making 11 birdies in a row to finish at 25-under for the tournament and only two shots behind John Daly and his son. Their final-round 57 was just one shot off the tournament record. All this just 299 days after his career seemed over.
In February, Woods crashed his Genesis SUV while driving in Los Angeles. His right leg shattered into pieces. He originally feared that the leg would have to be amputated; multiple surgeries and months of rehab were needed before he was even able to get out of bed, let alone swing a golf club. Meanwhile, the lingering question hung in the air: would he ever be able to play competitive golf again?
Woods admits he’s still a long way from playing on the PGA Tour, but the fact he was able to play with Charlie this week, and play so well, is nothing short of a miracle. He needed a golf cart to get around the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, but there he was on Sunday, the same red shirt and black pants, the same steely expression as he chased a win.
“The competitive juices, they are never going to go away. This is my environment. This is what I’ve done my entire life,” Woods said afterward. “I’m just so thankful to be able to have this opportunity to do it again. Earlier this year was not a very good start to the year and it didn’t look very good.”
To see the joy Woods got from being able to play with Charlie is to understand what all the pain and hard work were for. Woods learned the game playing with his dad; Charlie is now following in his footsteps.
He’s adopted many of his father’s mannerisms, from the club twirl to the fist pump after holing a putt. He also has Tiger’s fearless approach. On the par-three 17th hole, needing a birdie to keep pace with the Dalys, Charlie took an aggressive line, flirting with the water hazard but sticking his approach to just a few feet.
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They came up a little bit short after settling for par on the par-five 18th, but there was still a big smile on Woods’ face. He proved to himself he could do it; his ball speed on his drives was around tour average. After 10 months away from the game and a year after his last competitive round, he showed the same player is still there.
He won’t be playing on tour anytime soon. “I’m not at that level. I can’t compete against these guys right now, no. It’s going to take a lot of work to get to where I feel like I can compete at these guys and be at a high level,” he said. Months of work lie ahead.
But, just a few short months after he was lying in a hospital bed wondering if he would be able to walk again, this week was the first step toward a much larger goal. He got to share the moment with his son. The rest of the golf world got to witness it.
It seemed for a time like that wouldn’t happen again.