PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Four-year-old Charlie Woods was introduced to sports fans everywhere Sunday when he climbed into his proud father’s arms and was carried all the way to the scorer trailer at Firestone.
So it’s little surprise that two days later, Tiger Woods was asked how he would respond if young Charlie wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps and pursue a pro golf career.
That’s always tricky territory for famous sports stars, of course. The burden of expectation can often be too much for teens to handle.
Gary Nicklaus had just one top 10 in 122 starts. Michael Jordan’s sons played college basketball but didn’t pan out. What if one of Roger Federer’s kids wanted to take up tennis? Or Tony Hawk’s to skateboard? Or Peyton Manning’s to play quarterback?
“Whatever he decides, he decides,” Woods said Tuesday. “If he decides to play golf, so be it. If he decides to play another sport or not play any sports, as long as he’s happy and he enjoys life, I’m there to support and guide him in his life, and that’s what it’s all about.”
When Woods was growing up, his father, Earl, always wanted him to play sports other than golf. So, sure, he was a pitcher in baseball, and he ran track and cross country, but, “I would run home fast to get to the golf course.”
“I fell in love with golf at an early age,” he said. “I think the reason I did fall in love with it was because my dad kept it fun and light, and I just enjoyed being out there. That’s what I want to do with Sam or Charlie. We are just going to go out there and just have fun, hit it around, laugh and needle each other.
“He’s only 4 years old, but he still gives me a little bit of grief, which is good stuff.”