RLANDO, Fla. — Tiger Woods acquitted himself admirably in the first test of his comeback.
In the two-man scramble format at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, he and son Charlie teamed up to make a tournament record 11 consecutive birdies and shoot 15-under 57, but it wasn’t enough to catch John Daly and son John II at the PNC Championship.
“Nothing compares to being here and winning a big event with my kid,” John Daly remarked after he and his son scored 57 for a 36-hole total of 27-under 117.
Team Woods was paired in the final round of the tournament with Matt Kuchar and his son, Cameron, on a sun-drenched Sunday, and the elder Kuchar gushed afterwards about how well Woods played just 10 months after he was rescued from an SUV that rolled into an embankment on a busy Los Angeles boulevard by the jaws of life.
“He can still flush it, he still has speed, and he can still hit irons like Tiger Woods used to hit.” Kuchar described the experience as “amazing.”
Tiger just tweeted a video of himself striking a golf shot at home with the caption “making improvement” a few weeks ago. He was the last participant in the tournament’s 20-team field to commit. Kuchar didn’t hesitate when asked if he thought Tiger’s game was ready for the PGA Tour.
He replied, “Yes.” “It’s as simple as that.”
Tiger, on the other hand, was not on board. “I’m not there yet.” “Right now, I can’t compete with these men,” he remarked. “It’ll take a lot of work to get to the point where I feel like I can compete with these guys and perform at a high level,” he says.
Team Woods got out to a quick start in the final, posting the second-best score on the front nine after opening with a 10-under 62 on Saturday.
“I told Charlie as we approached the turn, ‘We’re going to have to at least birdie out or make eight out of nine on the back nine to have a chance.’ “There were simply too many groups tied with us or ahead of us,” Woods explained.
Charlie, 12, showed no fear, shooting a succession of stunning shots, particularly on the par-3 12th and 17th holes, where he hit a 5-iron to around 5 feet, the closest of any of the competitors all day.
Watching in awe. 😲
11 birdies in a row for Team Woods. pic.twitter.com/iIP9S4UDOZ
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 19, 2021
Only 1,000 tickets were sold to the general public, and it appeared that everyone in attendance, including baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and other older men dressed in Tiger’s typical Sunday red and black, was watching Tiger and Charlie. Former Tour pro John Cook walked out on the back nine with Tiger, an old practice-round buddy in town, and astonished at what he saw.
“Who knew a U.S. Open would take off,” he remarked, adding, “but you know Tiger, he’s not a show-up sort of guy.”
“The competitive juices will never go away,” Tiger explained. “This is where I live.” I’ve spent my entire life doing this. I’m really grateful to have this chance to do it again.”
Team Woods had one more chance to put pressure on Team Daly, who were playing behind them, at the par-5 18th, but they failed to convert on their birdie tries.
“We knew we needed three off the tee (at 18) to get into a playoff or at the very least make it interesting for the Dalys’ back there,” Woods said.
The week was a tremendous success for Woods, who spent three months in a hospital bed and didn’t know if he’d ever walk, let alone play golf again.
“To be able to play with my son and have these memories, for us, for both of us, for the rest of our lives, it’s worth all of the suffering.”