Let’s be honest, this was competitive golf only in the way frozen pizza is gourmet pizza.
Pars were bogeys, birdies were pars, carts were common and giggles were plentiful. But when you’ve been living in abstinence, you take what you can get. Pizza is pizza, period.
So seeing red, watching Tiger Woods come down the backside on Sunday, in contention — 10 months after that terrible crash — was a little bit o’ heaven. Didn’t matter that his 12-year old son was playing alongside, in fact it added to it. Didn’t matter that it was a co-ed scramble, it was a sight many weren’t sure they might see again, in any form.
So it was special, and it was presented accordingly. Thus, it seems only a matter of time before Woods contends in a major. At least, Charlie Woods.
And as the two Woods strung together 11 consecutive birdies and climbed the PNC Championship leaderboard, it was hard to say who was more impressive — Tiger or Tiger Cub.
“Yeah, we had a little run there,” the elder Woods said. “It was nice; it was fun. When we played the turn, I told Charlie, I said. ‘We're going to have to at least birdie out, at least make eight out of the nine on the back nine to have a chance.’
“And we got on a nice heater, and … we made 11 in a row, and on the last hole, we probably — we knew on the tee box that we needed (eagle) to probably get into a playoff or at least make it interesting … Unfortunately, we didn't chip-in and we didn't make the putts, either.”
“But it was fun. The goals this week, two things: One, to have fun; and two, no bogeys, and we accomplished both.”
The key word, repeated often, was “fun.” Before anyone gets too carried away with Masters wishes and U.S. Open dreams, let’s keep the lid. This was frozen pizza. “I’m just really tired,” Woods, who turns 46 on Dec. 30, said on TV after the round. “I mean, I’m not used to this. This was my … fourth or fifth round of golf this year? I’m a little worn out and it was nice to have a cart.”
That said, a funny thing happened during this Woods Family Festival, a twist in the plot. Tiger and Charlie Woods hogged the spotlight, to be sure. That was understandable.
But in the end, lest we forget, it’s Christmas time. And in the end, 11 straight Wood birdies and a final-round 57 wasn’t good enough. In the end, sunny Florida backdrop and crazy-looking pants notwithstanding, Santa and his elf stole the show.
Santa, being John Daly, that is. Daly looks the part, with a Kris Kringle-style beard and an ample belly. On the night before the tournament, all through the pre-championship dinner, not a creature could keep from stirring — and laughing — at the sight of Daly dressed in a St. Nick suit. Miracle on 34th Street eat your heart out.
On Sunday, Daly and his son — 18-year old University of Arkansas freshman John Daly II — reminded all the good girls and boys that the Claus family still carries a few tricks in the bag, along with presents and stuff. The Dalys combined for their own final-round 57 and a record low 36-hole score of 27 under par to capture the championship.
Ho, ho, ho. Santa was most merry about the play of his namesake elf: “With the holidays everything and, just playing golf with my son every day when I can, is just awesome,” Daly said. “To watch him grow up to do the things he could do with a golf ball and a swing that's so perfect … saving my you-know-what from (bad) putting yesterday.
“He played phenomenal and I helped him with a few shots here and there.”
The 55-year old Daly knows what it like to win majors — he won the PGA Championship in 1991, the British Open at St. Andrews in 1995. He knows what it’s like to battle adversity and he knows how stratospheric the media reaction would have been had Team Woods won the event.
But darn it, Santa deserves a Christmas, too.
“It's up there,” Daly said, when asked what the championship meant. “You can't beat it. For fathers, as we’re on the Senior Tour, we're not playing the British Opens and majors competitive like I used to.
“I can still play the British Open and the PGA but nothing comes close (to this). I've always told the media for years, the greatest days of my life were seeing my kids born. You can't top that.”
Meanwhile, if watching Tiger and Charlie Woods make birdies on Sunday seemed like an early Christmas present, don’t let all the fancy television wrapping fool you. It was special, no doubt. But it doesn’t mean you’ll be seeing it soon again in 2022.
“I'm not at that level,” Woods concluded, when asked about his competitive status. “I can't compete against these guys right now, no. It's going to take a lot of work to get to where I feel like I can compete with these guys and be at a high level.”
More Coverage of Tiger and Charlie Woods at the PNC Championship
- Tiger and Charlie Make 11 Straight Bridies, Fall Two Shots Short of Team Daly at PNC
- Heeeere's Charlie! Best Shots from 12-Year-Old Charlie Woods
- At PNC, Tiger Woods Reminds Us What We'd Missed
- A Closer Look at How Tiger and Charlie Woods' Golf Swings Are Different
- Photos: Tiger and Charlie Woods at 2021 PNC Championship