When Justin Thomas and his father, Mike, officially committed Wednesday to defending their PNC Championship title, tournament officials said that there remained one player announcement to complete the 20-team field for the Dec. 18-19 event in Orlando, Florida.
So, when Rich Beem posted a video to Twitter on Friday morning, revealing that he and son, Michael, had accepted an invitation to play the PNC, it caused a bit of a stir on social media since tournament officials told GolfChannel.com and other outlets last week that they were holding a spot in the field for Tiger Woods and his son, Charlie, who made their debut together last year at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.
But GolfChannel.com’s Ryan Lavner reported Friday afternoon that the Beems are not taking the final spot but rather replacing Retief Goosen and his son, Leo, who withdrew. Therefore, the PNC field remains open for Team Woods, should they commit.
Woods held his first public press conference since his February car accident near Los Angeles on Tuesday in the Bahamas, where Woods is hosting his Hero World Challenge. Asked if he had a target tournament in mind for returning to competition, Woods didn’t say, but he did reveal that he is currently “able to participate in the sport of golf; now, to what level, I do not know that.”
“I'll put it to you this way, as far as playing at the Tour level, I don't know when that's going to happen,” Woods said. “Now, I'll play a round here or there, a little hit and giggle, I can do something like that. … To see some of my shots fall out of the sky a lot shorter than they used to is a little eye-opening, but at least I'm able to do it again. That's something that for a while there it didn't look like I was going to. Now I'm able to participate in the sport of golf, now to what level, I do not know that. I'll keep you abreast, all of you abreast as progress continues to go on, whether I'll be out here and at what level and when.”
Golf Channel analysts Notah Begay III and Brandel Chamblee each said this week that they could see Woods competing in this month’s PNC. Begay, who was college teammates with Woods at Stanford and remains close friends with the 15-time major winner, said that “a lot of things that are going for that possibility to happen.”
“Tiger can ride a cart, he can drive up basically to the golf ball and almost onto the green, so the walking might not be as much of a stress on the leg,” Begay said. “But also, he can play Charlie’s drives. I covered them for the majority of that event last year, and Charlie was hitting most of the drives because of where his tees are at, and he’s such a good ball-striker that they were taking advantage of his drives because they were much farther than where Tiger’s balls were off the tee. Those are two critical things that I think might factor into him possibly showing up in a couple weeks with Charlie. I know the world would love to see it.”
Added Chamblee on Friday during Golf Central Pregame: “Not a doubt in my mind that Tiger is playing the PNC.”