The genie is out of the bottle. Tiger Woods’ son Charlie plays golf and his swing looks sweet.
The 10-year-old was filmed hitting balls on a practice range ahead of a junior tournament in Florida, with his dad standing behind him. Woods Sr. was later pictured caddying for his son.
The video, taken from a distance, set social media abuzz. Firstly, because Charlie is clearly a chip off the old block when it comes to golf.
But perhaps more importantly it sparked a debate on the ethics of circulating a video of a child, seemingly without permission. And it highlights the tricky world of Woods.
READ: Tiger Woods says kids don’t talk of Masters win
READ: Tiger Woods: A tumultuous 10 years from scandal to redemption
‘I don’t like fame’
On the one hand, Woods wants his kids – Charlie has an older sister Sam – to have as close as possible to a normal life, such as competing in junior golf tournaments, or going to soccer practice with friends, which the 44-year-old often references in news conferences.
But as one of the most famous sports stars on the planet, with a blockbuster back story, Woods knows he is the focus of intense scrutiny.
He hates that consequence of success, telling CNN in November of his attitude to fame, “I don’t like it. I never have liked it.” Which probably explains why his superyacht is named “Privacy.”
So when one of Woods’ children shows talent at golf, perhaps unsurprisingly given their dad’s 15 majors and status as arguably the best of all time, the spotlight is likely to swing in their direction.
For all the controversy that surrounded Woods following the sex scandal that led to divorce, he has always remained devoted to his children and worked hard to keep them out of the limelight.
During their early childhood it was relatively easy, and for a number of years recently, Woods was out of the scene himself given his catalogue of back injuries.
But during Woods’ comeback year in 2018 following spine fusion surgery, he admitted he wanted to show his growing kids that golf was more than just the “pain” it appeared to inflict on their dad and that he wasn’t just an old golfer on YouTube.
Sam and Charlie were present at Carnoustie in Scotland to see their father close to emulating his glory days as he briefly led the Open Championship. And they were at the center of the flashbulbs again at Augusta last April as Woods clinched that remarkable 15th major and first since 2008.
“It means the world to me just to have them there, and then now to have them see their Pops win, just like my Pops saw me win here, it’s pretty special,” he said afterwards, referring to his father Earl who died in 2006, the year after Woods won his fourth Masters.
On those occasions, Woods would have been well aware the children would have featured on TV and been snapped by photographers.
But unlike child prodigies, such as himself, publicly promoted from an early age by Earl and first on TV at the age of two, or Rory McIlroy, who featured on a Northern Ireland talk show chipping golf balls into a washing machine when he was nine years old, Charlie Woods’ recent appearance was no PR set up.
Tiger would have known his presence with his son on a packed driving range was likely to attract attention. But the reaction to the video will arguably give him pause for thought as he weighs up the best way to allow his kids to enjoy a normal life.
Some will also argue there was no harm in the video. It was, after all, a genuine “wow” moment as the world saw for the first time Charlie’s prowess with his dad watching on.
Woods is likely to be asked about it when he makes his first start of the season at Torrey Pines in California next week. The answer, or lack thereof, could be illuminating.
As for Charlie, it’s great he’s got some of his dad’s skills. But at 10, that’s largely irrelevant for now. Golf may only ever be a hobby for him.
Perhaps Tiger’s greatest influence will come in managing the exposure and helping his son come to terms with the price of a famous dad.