A year after ‘The Charlie Show,’ all eyes on Tiger Woods

A year after ‘The Charlie Show,’ all eyes on Tiger Woods


ORLANDO, Fla. — The focus is again the place it at all times burned brightest, on the man whose numerous accidents and comebacks have garnered the laserlike consideration akin to all the golf data he set.

Tiger Woods was on a golf course once more, a crowd of 1000’s following him in a pro-am. It was superb to witness, realizing what we all know.

A year has rambled by since he final did this, on the identical Ritz- Carlton Golf Club the place his son, Charlie, then 11 years outdated, stole the headlines on the PNC Championship.

Padraig Harrington, the newest European Ryder Cup captain, who had his battles with Woods all through the years, is simply as curious as the remainder of us. He chuckled on the reminiscence of saying on the 2020 occasion “The Charlie Show.”

“For once, Tiger is not the story,” Harrington said then.

Tiger Woods is now — and that was obvious on Friday. Golf Channel wasn’t breaking in to show live pro-am shots were it not for the momentousness of the occasion. Woods was back on a golf course, hitting shots, looking good, nearly 10 months to the day that he was involved in a horrific car crash that could have claimed his life.

The injuries were extensive to his right leg and foot, and only recently has Woods felt good enough to appear in public. For months, he stayed in seclusion, needing a wheelchair. When he finally graduated to crutches, he joked that getting around his mansion in South Florida was more of a chore than he realized.

A few weeks ago, he appeared at his foundation’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, doing his first interviews and proclaiming he had a long way to go — all the while hitting balls on various days at the Albany course, showing there was still some game left.

That he has taken it to this point — even if he is riding in a golf cart — is impressive. The story isn’t so much about Charlie, whose exploits as a 12-year-old now are impressive. And yet, Charlie is the reason Tiger is here.

“Completely,” mentioned Erica Herman, Tiger’s girlfriend. “[Tiger] really wanted to do this for him. It became important to try and do this.”

Herman said that Charlie didn’t so much try to drag his dad to the tournament, in which where they tied for seventh a year ago, as remind him how much fun he had. And Tiger, realizing its significance, wanted to make it happen.

We probably will never fully realize that magnitude of the struggle to get here.

Herman joked that when the rest of us have some sort of malady and a doctor asks us to rehabilitate, we are likely to be less than committed. Not Tiger Woods.

“He’s labored arduous — and it has been tougher than any of the others,” she mentioned, referring to the varied comebacks from knee and again points. “No matter what it was, irrespective of how small, he did it. Never missed. Did all the things.”

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Charlie Woods sinks a smooth birdie on the 17th hole, and Tiger appears quite impressed.

That seems right on brand for Woods, whose work ethic and attention to detail throughout his career is part of the legend.

“I believe he is received alien DNA,” mentioned Notah Begay, Woods’ teammate at Stanford and now a Golf Channel analyst. “His ability to repair not only physically but mentally and emotionally is second to none. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like it in sports.”

In some ways, Friday appeared to be business as usual. Herman usually never bothers with the pro-ams.

“Are there often this many individuals?” she requested.

But she was recruited to assist drive the cart and direct site visitors. Joe LaCava is right here to caddie, and Rob McNamara, Tiger’s longtime pal and eyes and ears over the previous a number of years, was with him contained in the ropes, discussing the swing and numerous features of the sport.

McNamara admitted he had his reservations about Woods doing this, given the struggles that lay forward and realizing that even strolling the quick distances between the cart and the greens or tees continues to be going to take a toll over three days.

But he additionally acknowledged that it appeared proper, that Woods bonding along with his son on this stage after almost a year of immense battle was value it.

And in case you did not know what you realize … effectively, numerous what Woods did throughout five-plus hours on the course appeared … regular.

Woods has by no means been absolutely engaged in pro-ams. He chats up his novice companions, jokes round with a couple of stragglers and works on his recreation — however not in any high-intensity method. That was the case on Friday. He practiced his quick recreation across the greens, pitching and chipping to totally different spots. He did the identical on the greens along with his placing.

There was some thought he may forgo tee photographs. But he hit from the again tees; they measure simply greater than 7,100 yards. And whereas they did not all fly true and much, he had his moments, such on the eleventh gap, the place his tee shot went 320 yards.

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Charlie Woods’ second shot on the eleventh comes inside an inch of going into the opening for an eagle.

Around the greens, Woods’ quick recreation appeared sharp. But let’s face it: That is the facet he has been capable of work on essentially the most.

One drive received away from him on the ninth gap, a toe-push that elicited some apparent dismay from Woods. As Charlie walked by his dad, the youthful Woods quipped: “Nice shot,” which in turn had Tiger firing his tee at Charlie’s back and eliciting a huge laugh.

Tiger has been working with a new prototype driver as well as a new golf ball. He unveiled a new device a few weeks ago for swing speed and launch angle work. Clearly, some of this is about him giving some love to his sponsors, who have not been able to benefit this year from the eyeballs he typically draws to everything about him.

But it also shows that Woods is fully engaged in the process. He is an equipment geek at heart. And he loves to test out all of the game’s new toys, a sign he is engaged in this recovery. That he was hitting chip shots from behind the 18th green despite being in some discomfort was another sign.

As the round progressed, Woods hit fewer shots, a reminder of this daunting process. He said he wanted to save them for the tournament. That makes sense. The weather is quite warm, and there is bound to be fatigue.

“For all intents and functions, 9 months hasn’t carried out his swing any totally different,” Harrington mentioned. “To him, it would really feel totally different, however it would not look any totally different. Coming again, velocity goes to be a problem.”

Speed. And endurance. And the flexibility to stroll. And stroll. And stroll some extra.

Don’t underestimate how massive of a deal that’s for Woods, an act that after was routine however now takes on additional which means. Woods goes to want a while, maybe fairly a bit extra. Four rounds of match golf is actually nothing to be taken with no consideration, and doing so on the highest aggressive degree solely provides to the stress.

This occasion needs to be removed from that. It is supposed to be low-key, which is almost inconceivable when Woods is concerned. Hence, the highlight can be on him once more.

But if it weren’t for Charlie, Tiger would not be right here, and an essential a part of the comeback can be on maintain.

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