Team Woods ends gutsy PNC Championship round 1 in contention
Beware of the injured golfer(s).
Despite both Tiger and Charlie Woods limping their way around Ritz Carlton Golf Club, Team Woods is firmly in contention at the 2022 PNC Championship.
The Woods’ caught fire midway through their opening, playing holes 4 through 14 in 11 under par, and finishing the day with a 59. They’ll start Sunday’s final round two strokes behind their round one playing partners, Team Thomas, who matched Team Woods nearly shot for shot, before pulling away on the back nine for a 57.
Tiger said Charlie’s left ankle was OK when was asked about the younger Woods’ limp during Friday’s pro-am, but Charlie was struggling during his warmup before Round 1, making adjustments to his shoes to try and get comfortable. By the time he teed off, it was clear he couldn’t finish swings onto his left side and could only hit a left-to-right shot.
But Tiger jump-started the team on the par- 5th, making eagle and the pair was able to light up the course to the tune of 11 birdies and the eagle.
“We just got rolling,” Tiger Woods said. “I had a little bit of a chip-in and all of a sudden a couple putts fell, and we were just trying to give ourselves as many opportunities getting in the fairway, iron shots and putts, and we just got rolling.
The pair slowed down a little after the 14th hole, making three-straight pars in the two-man scramble format, but a majestic long iron from Tiger found the putting surface in two on the 18th green and the pair got the putt down in two for a closing birdie. Woods’ game looked much sharper than his last time in the competition last week at The Match VII.
Tiger hit touched 180 mph ball speed with his driver and even hit a couple balls by Justin Thomas. His long iron approaches on the par-5s 5th, 14th and 18th were Vintage Woods. He also bailed out the ailing Charlie several times with long bombs on 4 and 9 and nifty pitches on 10 and 12.
“I mean, he played great today. He had to carry me all day,” Charlie Woods said of his dad after the round.
They’re joined in the tie for second with Vijay and son Qass Singh, who have finished second in this event three times.
But the day belonged to the 2020 champions. Justin Thomas and father Mike matched the Woods with 11 birdies, but added two eagles and will play Sunday with the Woodses again in the final group.
Mike Thomas struggled with a back issue at last year’s title defense but the issues looked to be a thing of the past and the younger Thomas looked to be still riding high on his dominant performance last week at The Match with Jordan Spieth against Woods and Rory McIlory.
“I would say [we] probably didn’t hit some wedges or irons as close as we would have liked but fortunately I think we both feel pretty good on these greens,” Justin Thomas said. “And if I’m lucky enough to give my dad the right read, it seems like he makes it, and if not, I’m able to learn enough to knock it in sometimes.”
The Thomases and Woodses were neck-and-neck midway through the round before Justin put his second on the 14th on the green to 10 feet from 257 yards. The Thomases got two more birdies coming in, and flirted with the event single-round record of 56.