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Charlie Woods, the golf prodigy following dad Tiger Woods’ legacy

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The Tiger Woods’ son walks the path once followed by his father

Tiger Woods buried his father Earl in an unmarked grave. The memories stayed with him for the next few months, when he had to return with the U.S. Navy SEAL, the U.S. Army’s premier special operations force. That was ex-combatant Earl’s world: shooting, parachuting, and touching down. “Now you get it,” he told him two years earlier, in 2004, when Tiger tried to follow in his footsteps.

Upon returning, Tiger learned to use sniper rifles and entered Kill House, a combat simulator. The challenge was to distinguish between terrorists and hostages. One of the instructors asked him why he was there. “My dad told me I had two paths to choose from golf or being a special operations soldier,” he said. Then time would sort out that quest.

Tiger grew up hand in hand with Earl. Some still remember that, when he was three years old, he took him to TV and that he was the origin, cause, and consequence of absolutely everything. “I think Earl had a plan from the time Tiger started walking,” explains Tiger’s elementary school teacher in ‘Tiger,’ the HBO documentary.

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As his son grew as a golfer, Earl proudly declared that Tiger’s Thai, Chinese, African, Indo-American, and European origins could be “a bridge” between East and West. But then came family problems.

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I think Earl had a plan from the time Tiger started walking,

Tiger then had to deal with fame and his father’s infidelities. Everything was falling apart. After Earl’s death, the golfer reached his splendor at the Augusta Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship. And although he tried to be an anonymous athlete, it was not possible.

Tiger Woods’ career, between light and darkness
Tiger won 82 PGA Tour tournaments and equaled Sam Snead’s record. He led the winnings list in the U.S. circuit 10 times and put his name next to legends such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Few, however, knew what was in the middle of the road.

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Among those few people was Michael Jordan. Tiger told Jordan that he went out running in combat boots and had military training as he learned with the SEALs. But then came the injuries, the mistresses, the excesses, and the public apologies with his mother in the front row.

One night at a New York club, the golfer asked Jordan how he initiated a conversation with girls. “Go there,” Jordan told him, “and tell them you’re Tiger Woods.” Without Earl, the only ones who could alleviate his emptiness and pain were sons Charlie and Sam.

Charlie Woods, the heir to Tiger’s legacy
After five back surgeries and five knee surgeries, the horrific tibia and fibula fracture he suffered when he crashed his vehicle outside Los Angeles while driving 140 kilometers per hour on a 70-mile-per-hour stretch has put Tiger in front of the mirror. His days as a great competitor are over.

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“It’s honest to say that I will play the American circuit again someday, but never again full time. I’ll pick a few tournaments a year and compete, like Ben Hogan did. I train knowing that and that’s how I’m going to have to play from now on. That’s my reality. I accept it.”, Tiger said in an interview with Golf Digest.

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Charlie, however, was a spectator to the last chapters of his career. Everything he knows about golf he owes to his dad. Just in case there’s any doubt, they both dress alike. Charlie, 11, played his first 18 holes on the PGA Tour in December 2020. He played alongside Tiger, both in purple shirts and black pants, and naturally made the same gestures to hit the ball.

“He reminds me of myself and my dad when I was at that age,” Tiger confessed a few months ago. “I wish I could swing as he does. I analyze his swing all the time.

Charlie, the second son of Tiger and Ellen Nordgreen’s final marriage, has treasured the lessons of his greatest teacher. He never knew his grandfather Earl, but all his questions have been answered by his dad. The legend in front of his mirror. The last games of one are the beginning of another to continue his legacy.

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