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The PNC Pro-Am Has a Few Surprises in Store

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Surprises in Store at PNC Pro-Am

The golf world breathlessly awaits Tiger Woods’ reappearance at this weekend’s PNC Championship. But before the PNC Championship, we get the PNC Championship’s two-part pro-am! On Thursday and Friday, the two-player teams assemble and pair up with sponsors to get ready for the weekend’s main event. Most of the teams, at least. Here are a few nuggets we’ve picked up about this week’s PNC prelude:

No Tiger on Thursday.

This makes plenty of sense. If Tiger Woods wants to come play your golf tournament, he has pretty significant bargaining power. If Tiger Woods wants to come play your golf tournament, he hasn’t played any form of competitive golf in a calendar year and is undergoing aggressive rehab from a horrifying car crash, you tell him he can play whatever pro-am events he damn well pleases.

It also makes sense given Woods’ physical limitations. He has stressed that endurance is among the limiting factors in his golf game right now and his range sessions feature far more pauses than they used to. There’s no need to force things with another practice round in the public eye.

Woods isn’t the only one missing from Thursday’s action; Justin Thomas and Tom Watson are sitting out, too. Three pros sit out Friday, too: Henrik Stenson, Nick Faldo and Rich Beem.

Bubba has a fill-in practice partner.

Bubba Watson is once again partnering with his father-in-law Wayne Ball for the PNC Championship itself. But in the pro-am pairings he is listed with a different teammate: Angie Watson, his wife. She’ll play alongside Bubba at 10:20 a.m. Thursday and 8:40 a.m. Friday. We’ll see if she puts the pressure on her dad to step aside to keep the partnership going for the weekend.

Tiger might have a stand-in Pro-Am partner, too.

According to the Pro-Am tee times, Woods is playing alongside someone from his own generation on Friday: Matt Kuchar! Woods and Kuchar are scheduled to go off the first tee at 9 a.m. Friday.

At first glance that makes it seem like the Charlie Woods Show will be on hold until Saturday. But it’s also possible the tee sheet is just incomplete; last year Team Woods played with Justin Thomas and his father Mike in a pro-am group, and it’s possible they’re teamed up with the Kuchars this year. Interpret the chart below as you see fit. If Woods is just playing with Kuchar, whether because Charlie is in school on Friday, doesn’t feel like playing a practice round under a microscope or is just bored of explaining the finer points of cryptocurrency to curious Orlando-area bigwigs, that’s his business.

One thing’s for sure: We’ll see both members of Team Woods on the first tee for the real deal come Saturday.

Kuchar is playing a couple Pro-Pros.

In addition to playing alongside Woods on Friday, Kuchar is partnering with Henrik Stenson in Thursday’s pro-am. It makes sense that these are the three would play practice rounds together; their sons Cameron Kuchar, Karl Stenson and Charlie Woods are the three youngest competitors in the field. That doesn’t disqualify their chances, either: Team Kuchar finished T5 last year, just a shot ahead of Team Woods.

There will be TV coverage. Lots of it!

You can learn all about the extensive PNC TV coverage here, which runs from 12:30-6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

But this year there’s Pro-Am coverage, too! Live coverage! NBC Sports released its broadcast schedule on Wednesday, which included a two-hour slot from 12:30-2:30 p.m. for PNC Pro-Am coverage. What does that look like? How does one cover a pro-am? Will there be scoring?

Golf Central will also be on site Thursday through Sunday, with Rich Lerner, Brandel Chamblee, John Cook and Todd Lewis providing some in-person color. That’s a high-wattage crew turning out for what has exhaustively been referred to as a hit-and-giggle. Their coverage will start at 11:30 a.m. on Friday.

It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to settle here: This year’s PNC will draw record eyeballs. The organizers know it, the broadcast partners know it and PNC knows it, too.

You can find the Pro-Am pairings below:

PNC Pro-Am tee times.PNC CHAMPIONSHIP

This article originally appeared on Golf.com.

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