Their mannerisms were strikingly similar. The way they knelt to study the shot. The way they wiped their brow. The way their left hand, gripping the putter, would sweep high in triumph after the ball drops into the hole. And, of course, the gait, equal parts tenacity and hubris.
A man and his shadow. A father and his son. Tiger Woods, largely recovered from a serious car accident, and 12-year-old Charlie Woods strolling the golf course.
Like millions around the globe, Stephen Curry was bewitched last month by the sight. Tiger and Charlie played well, but didn’t win the PNC Championship. They did, however, warm hearts in the Curry home and the world over.
“It was special,” Curry says on "Race in America: A Candid Conversation," which aired Sunday on NBC Sports Bay Area. “I know there’s always a conversation about (Tiger’s) health and making sure he’s able to be a dad and be there for his family, just be active. Golf is obviously secondary with all he’s been through.
“But to know he had an opportunity to come back on the course, just the whole setting and knowing it was for his son and the way that he handled that as a dad, you get goosebumps thinking about that. And Charlie’s got that look in his eye, like what golf means to him and what being in that competitive environment, playing in a tournament, playing with his dad . . . it’s pretty special.”
Tiger and Charlie stirred the imaginations of millions of parents, including Curry, whose 3-year-old son, Canon, already is dipping his tiny toes into the Curry family golf craze.
“We have a little backyard net, where he can get some swings in. He loves it,” Curry says. “When I come home, that’s like the first thing he says: ‘Daddy go play golf? Daddy go play golf?’ He knows I play basketball and he’s been to a couple games and he’s been able to enjoy watching me play with my jersey on and be out there hooping.
“But golf is possibly his first love.
We’ll see is, in this instance, shorthand for, “I’d be delighted if my son, on his own, falls in love with golf.”
A parent’s love of a sport can, if guided carefully and kept in balance, be transferred to the son or daughter. Richard Williams planted the seeds of tennis that sprouted within Venus and Serena Williams. Tiger’s devotion to golf grew from the seed planted by his father, Earl. Charlie’s love surely began with the seed planted by Tiger.
Stephen’s love of basketball came from his father, Dell, who spent 16 years in the NBA. It was late in Dell’s career that golf became his passion. He brought it to his children – Stephen, Seth and Sydel – but only one was immediately hooked.
“As he learned, he introduced it to us, me and my brother and sister, and I got hit with the bug really quickly,” Stephen recalls. “My brother, he loves it now, but as we were growing up, he didn’t play as much. My sister doesn’t play. But I was obsessed with it. It was probably around nine or 10 years old.”
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Having his only son creeping in that direction, a potential third-generation golf fanatic, is wholly embraced. Though skill may or may not be genetic, appreciation of the game can be passed along, parents to children.
Dozens of athletes in the NBA, NFL and MLB are sons of former players. In addition to the Currys, the NBA has numerous second-generation pros, including three Warriors: Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton Jr.
“My daughters (Riley and Ryan, neither one of them wants to play basketball,” Curry says. “My son, he loves basketball, he loves golf, he loves all that, the same way I did.
“As a father, you look forward to any opportunity to have an experience like that with your kid. You know they’re having fun and they’re enjoying themselves and you can participate with them in whatever it is.”
That experience with basketball undoubtedly tightened the bonds Dell Curry had with Stephen and Seth, both of whom play golf with their father. And now Stephen is visualizing playing golf someday doing the same with Canon.
“You start to imagine,” Curry says, “what that could look like (when) watching the Woods family.”