The $7.2 million Genesis Open begins Thursday at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades with Tiger Woods playing in the tournament for the first time since 2006.
Woods is playing for the first time since tying for 23rd in last month’s Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, seven shots off the lead in his first PGA Tour event in a year after being sidelined following a fourth back surgery.
The only soreness Woods reported after playing in the tournament was in his feet.
“I’m not used to walking,” Woods said. “I’m used to being in a cart playing 36 holes. It’s a good sore, it’s just different.”
Woods said he mainly “just tried to clean up my swing” in the two weeks since the Farmers Insurance Open.
“I felt we could all see how bad I was driving it, so I was able to clean that up a little bit and still keep my putting sharp,” Woods said.
Woods said he is “making small little subtle changes in my posture and my game and my swing because I’m starting to understand my body a little bit more with this back that’s different than it used to be.”
“Those are things that I could never have figured that out on my own not in a tournament setting because in a tournament setting, things are ramped up and I could feel some of the things were off and was able to work on them,” Woods said.
Woods said the Riviera course has change substantially since he last played on it in a tournament.
“Everything’s bigger now,” Woods said. “The bunkers are deeper, they seem to be bigger. The greens have gotten more pin locations than I remember.”
This will be the 12th time Woods has played in the Genesis Open, which he has never won. He lost in a playoff to Billy Mayfair in 1998, his only loss in 12 playoffs on the PGA Tour. He finished in a three-way tie for second in 1999, two strokes behind Ernie Els.
“I love the golf course, I love the layout, it fits my eye and I play awful,” Woods said. “It’s very simple. It’s just one of those weird things.”
The 42-year-old Woods will be playing in the first two rounds in a threesome that also includes fellow American Justin Thomas and Northern Ireland star Rory McIlroy.
Thomas was selected by the PGA Tour membership as the 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year for winning five tournaments, including the PGA Championship, and capturing the FedExCup, which goes to the player with the most points after the Tour Championship.
“Justin flew with me out here,” Woods said. “He asked me when did I play in this tournament as an amateur. I said (when) I was 16, 1992. He said, `That was the year before I was born.’ I’m sorry, but that really put things in perspective really fast.”
McIlroy was plagued by a rib injury in 2017, failing to win a tournament. He missed the cut in last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, his only appearance on the PGA Tour this season. He finished second in the European Tour’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, which concluded Jan. 28.
The 144-player field includes three of the top four players in the Official World Golf Ranking, led by Dustin Johnson, who moved into the top spot when he won last year’s tournament, and has not relinquished it.
Since 2008, no player has more rounds of 67 or better at Riviera than Johnson. In 36 rounds at Riviera, he has played 13 of them at 67 or better. The next nearest player is J.B. Holmes with nine.
Johnson is coming off a four-way tie for second in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
The tournament winner will receive $1.296 million and a Genesis G80 Sport, the newest mid-sized luxury sedan of the brand whose parent company is South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group.
The first player in each round with a hole-in-one on the par-3 14th or 16th holes will also win a Genesis G80 Sport, as will his caddy. No players had holes-in-one on either hole last year. Ryan Moore and Tyrone Van Aswegen had holes in one on the 16th hole in 2016. The last player with a hole-in-one on the 14th hole was Rich Beem in 2007.
—City News Service
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