Orlando (United States) (AFP) – In his first golf tournament after his serious car accident last February, Tiger Woods enjoyed this Saturday partnering again with his son Charlie in the first round of the PNC Championship, which ended happily but also physically exhausted.
Tiger, 45, and Charlie, 12, signed a 62-stroke round, 10 under par, to finish in fifth place at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida.
“It was great, it was a very fun day,” declared the former world number one at the end of his tour.
“Charlie and I had a great time playing together again,” he congratulated himself. “There were a lot of jokes throughout the day. We pranked each other and made low comments.”
A year ago, the PNC Championship was the scene of Tiger’s first competition with his son, who then astonished the public with his level as the youngest participant in the history of the tournament.
On that occasion, the last time Tiger was seen on a field before his accident, ‘Team Wood’ finished in seventh place in this year-end event, in which a score of Grand Slam winners they play by partnering with a relative.
In the current edition, father and son are even with five other couples within three strokes of the leaders, the golfer Stewart Cink and his son Reagan.
All the lights on the course were on the start of the Woods round, when Charlie generated a buzz of admiration with an extraordinary tee shot that ended with a birdie on the first hole.
In total, the pair made 10 birdies without committing a bogey, a mark that the ever ultra-competitive Tiger desired.
“There was one thing we wanted to do, we wanted to keep a clean card,” he acknowledged. “Last year we did a bogey in every round. This year we have not done it and I hope that tomorrow we will get off to a good start and continue like this.”
The world of golf awaited with great expectation the return to a field of the best player in this sport in recent decades, who has accumulated 82 PGA titles, 15 of them Grand Slam.
Although he has starred in epic resurrections in the past, Tiger has warned that the severity of his injuries will likely prevent him from being a regular member of the circuit.
Woods collided with his truck last February near Los Angeles (California) at almost twice the speed allowed, suffering severe fractures in the right leg of which he is still in rehab.
This Saturday, Woods traveled in a golf cart through this 6.5-kilometer course, while his son toured it on foot.
“I would have liked to be able to walk with him and be by his side at every step like I did last year. Physically I can’t do it,” Tiger acknowledged before describing his current limitations.
“It’s frustrating when I don’t hit the ball as far as I know I can and when I see that the shots don’t go the way I want. Today (I only) hit two or three shots exactly how I wanted,” he lamented.
“I have no resistance. I have not played. This is my fourth or fifth round all year. It is exhausting,” he said. “I’m not in golf shape. I’m not in shape to practice and I’m definitely not in shape for tournaments.”
“If I want to compete at the circuit level I am going to have to regain the stamina and hit thousands and thousands of golf balls. It just takes time,” said Woods, who revealed that just two weeks ago he was not sure if he could play this event.
Other golf legends, such as Gary Player and Nick Faldo, also compete in the PNC Championship.
The number one on the women’s circuit, the American Nelly Korda, plays alongside her father, former Czech tennis player Petr Korda, and they are in eleventh place with a card of 63 strokes (-9).
© 2021 AFP
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Enjoying their return to golf, Tiger and his son start fifth in the PNC Championship