Tiger Woods hasn’t performed right here since withdrawing with a chilly after two rounds in 2006. Certain, there have at all times been loads of A-listers within the discipline and a few of them even received (Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson), however the occasion has lengthy lacked the star wattage that solely Woods brings to the occasion.
Image Oscar evening with Jack Nicholson watching from residence.
There are two explanation why Woods has returned to Riviera after a 12-year absence: the necessity for aggressive reps in his comeback from again surgical procedure, and the truth that the Genesis Open now advantages the Tiger Woods Basis.
He didn’t discuss to the media on Wednesday, however a day earlier had admitted that he was relearning a course that has seen vital modifications within the dozen years since he was final right here.
“The outdated yardage books are out the window,” he stated.
This marks Woods’s 10th skilled begin within the occasion, which he has by no means received. His greatest end was a 1998 playoff loss to Billy Mayfair.
“I really like the golf course, I really like the format, it suits my eye and I play terrible,” he stated. “It’s quite simple. It’s simply a kind of bizarre issues.”
One one who is conscious about the elevated buzz with Woods again within the discipline this 12 months is Rory McIlroy, who will tee off with the 14-time main champion and Justin Thomas at 7:22 a.m. Pacific Thursday.
“I wouldn’t have minded a pleasant quiet couple of days,” McIlroy stated. “However no, it’s completely high-quality. Any time you could have an opportunity to play in a bunch like that you simply form of relish it and embrace it.”
Woods appears simply as eager to Share the highlight with the youthful era of stars.
“We’re going to have numerous enjoyable,” he stated. “I feel that each one three of us are enthusiastic about enjoying with each other on this occasion.”
Woods was the primary man out within the Wednesday pro-am, teeing off with a bunch that included actor Mark Wahlberg at 6:40 a.m. Because the hours progressed, his gallery swelled, and even included PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. He put collectively a tidy spherical, hitting eight of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with three birdies in opposition to only one bogey.
However the wayward driver that crippled him in his comeback three weeks in the past at Torrey Pines was nonetheless on Woods’ thoughts. After hitting his tee shot on 18, he handed the membership (sans headcover) to a rep to be taken away for an adjustment. He was hitting it once more on the vary shortly afterward, with 4 younger youngsters quietly gathered on the grass behind him watching intently. Between pictures, Woods tapped souvenir balls again towards them.
Woods stated he’s unsure what to anticipate in simply his second official PGA Tour begin in a 12 months, however is evident on the longer-term targets.
“I’d finally prefer to win tournaments,” stated the person who has received 79 of them on Tour. “I’m making an attempt to get by that course of, get to that time.”
Woods tied for 23rd on the Farmers Insurance coverage Open, an outing that provided a lot encouragement for his followers. His quick sport appeared sharp, his vaunted potential to grind out a rating was evident, and most significantly, his well being remained strong. Just one factor harm after the occasion, he confessed: “My ft. I’m not used to strolling.”
Defending champion Johnson is amongst these simply completely satisfied to see Woods within the discipline, no matter his rating.
“Golf wouldn’t be the place it’s at the moment with out Tiger. It’s nice to see him again, it’s nice to see him competing once more,” Johnson stated. “It’s good for the sport of golf him being right here. It may solely assist us.”