Tiger the competitor reveals Tiger the father during fun, emotional weekend
ORLANDO, Florida - For so many years the only view of Tiger Woods was through the competition. He was stoic, focused, motivated, and infinitely confident in his own abilities.
For so long, Tiger was defined by what he did for a living, his game on the pitch and how he rewrote the history books with each milestone win. To everyone but the select few in his small circle, he was what his professional résumé said - a unique talent and a motivated competitor.
This narrow definition faded in recent years when an injury seemed to compel him to expand his public role before retirement.
In 2016, Tiger, paused by a bad back, traded his clubs for keys to a golf cart as one of Davis Love III's vice captains at the Ryder Cup. In this new role, the golf world got an expanded look at an intense task master with the relentless urge not to leave anything to chance.
Full field results from the PNC championship
As the front man of the US team at Royal Melbourne last year, that image was further expanded when he cleverly named the right games in his dual role as captain.
But it was this week's PNC championship, formerly known as the Father-Son Challenge, but expanded to include daughters, stepsons, and every other level of family connection in recent years as the shifts peeled off enough that one Point became visible and protective father.
Given Tiger's need for privacy, it can be assumed that he reluctantly introduced his son Charlie into this spotlight at such a young age, but as he explained this week, he felt the 11-year-old was ready.
Charlie Woods' game turned out to be very primetime ready. The younger Woods carried his high-profile father regularly with drives that found the fairway with refreshing consistency, and approach shots that were almost always pin high, as if the Woods surname was linked to a genetic predisposition for flawless ball hitting.
Tiger: 'Words can't describe' what it felt like to play with Charlie
For the week, Team Tiger had 16 birdies, three eagles and just two bogeys for a total of 20 under, five strokes less than the winning pace set by Justin Thomas and his father Mike.
Wild expectations are always part of the appearance for Tiger, and the breathless reactions to his son's game at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando have been both predictable and out of place. Here, Tiger, the father, quickly showed a lovable side when asked about his focus for the week.
"I'm trying to make sure Charlie is in the right environment, that he's protected. He's away from all of this [media] I have to do - make sure I do whatever I can so he can practice and play and that he can enjoy the golf side, "said Woods." I'll take care of all of that. Make sure he enjoys just playing golf. "
If that sounds a million miles away from Second Sucks, it is proof of what this week meant to Tiger. He may have been a reluctant participant, but once he signed up there would be no more halves. It has always been recognized that he embraced fatherhood with a predictable zeal, but this week has proven what we all thought.
Tiger and Charlie spent two days high fiving, laughing, and hugging. The two chatted with Justin and Mike Thomas about gunfire and strategy and trash. They were absolutely inseparable.
"He was a great dad to Charlie and to [daughter] Sam. He's obviously a very dedicated dad. This is a big stage to bring out little Charlie at 11, it might be a little intimidating, but we have something very special by the way they played, ”said Mark O'Meara, who was part of Tiger's inner circle from an early age.
Even those who have been in Tiger's orbit for the past two decades have been drawn to this new side.
"He's like any other father. I'm happy about his son and I'm proud of him. I'm happy that he is successful," said David Duval, who was with Team Woods on Sunday. "Everyone changes and grows and Matures. Perspectives change, priorities in life change. None of us is the same as five years ago, ten years ago, 15 years ago, he is no different from any of us. "
Tiger will always be the 82-time PGA Tour winner and 15-time major champion. Greatness tends to dominate a legacy, but for two days the world saw a new perspective.
With ex-wife Elin Nordegren, Charlie, and Sam's mother walking his group for the first time since their divorce in 2010, there was a glimpse of a single father with a complicated life.
After the team finished their second 62 in a row, Tiger was asked about his late father, Earl, and he offered a different point of view, that of an emotional son.
“I know my father would have been proud of the way Sam and Charlie turned out. I just wish he could have been here for all of this. My mom was, she was a part of her life, I wish my dad was, ”Woods said.
But most of the time Tiger was a father who wanted the best for his son.
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