The world of golf awaits with anticipation the return of Tiger Woods on Saturday at the PNC Championship, the last event he played before his serious car accident and where he will once again compete as a couple with his son Charlie.
This Friday, both began to attract the spotlight by jumping onto the field of the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando (Florida) for a pre-tournament exhibition.
Ten months after the collision, Woods is still recovering from several fractures to his right leg but has made a great impression in practice leading up to the PNC Championship.
2020 tournament winner Mike Thomas with his son, professional golfer Justin Thomas, said Thursday that Tiger’s current state is “impressive” considering his situation.
In recent weeks, the former world number one has acknowledged that he came to fear the amputation of his leg after he crashed with his truck last February on the outskirts of Los Angeles (California), driving almost twice the speed allowed .
The 45-year-old Californian golfer had just undergone a fifth back surgery to extend his legendary career, in which he has conquered 82 PGA tournaments – equaling Sam Snead’s record – and 15 Grand Slam records.
The pains had returned to him in December 2020 playing with his son in the PNC Championship, the tournament he has now chosen for his return.
On that occasion, Tiger and Charlie made their debut in this event in pairs, made up of a Grand Slam champion and a family member, and the youngest of the Woods stole the show with an eagle in the first round and a very similar swing. that of his famous father.
At just 11 years old, Charlie was the youngest participant in the history of the tournament and the pair finished in seventh place in an edition in which Justin Thomas and his father Mike prevailed.
Tiger enjoyed the experience so much that on Saturday he will return to the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club with his son for the first round, with his tee shot scheduled for 12:18 local time (1718 GMT).
“I’m going to play as a father and I couldn’t be more excited and proud,” Woods said last week in announcing his return.
– Is awesome” –
In his last public speeches, Woods acknowledged that “he is very far” from being able to play week after week on the PGA circuit and advanced that his goal is to participate in specific events.
The PNC Championship offers Woods the possibility of a comeback without the demands of regular tournaments. The event comprises two rounds and you can ride a golf cart around the course.
The family atmosphere will take pressure off the Californian star, but Mike Thomas, a former college golfer, once again raised expectations when describing his current state.
“It’s crazy how good and how far he’s hitting for what’s happened,” Thomas, who said he recently shared a round with Woods, explained Thursday.
I find it “impressive where it is” (…) It has speed, distance. I was surprised, “he acknowledged.
Beside him Justin Thomas, number six in the world ranking, recalled that this end-of-year tournament is based on having fun and enjoying family time.
“It is the same for all of us,” he said. “I’m here to spend time with my father and Tiger is here to spend time with Charlie. The thing is, we play a televised tournament.”
“In terms of competition, I think their expectations are very low,” Thomas said of his colleague. “But at the same time, he is who he is for a reason, so I’m sure he will be upset if he doesn’t play well.”
Another couple participating in this edition will be the number one in women’s golf, the American Nelly Korda, along with her father, the former Czech tennis player Petr Korda. The player also showed her excitement for competing alongside Woods.
“I’m not going to lie. I’m being a bit selfish, but it’s pretty cool,” he acknowledged.