Tiger Woods made his long-awaited return to action on Thursday, shooting a one-over par 72 on the first day of the Genesis Invitational.
The golf icon, who debuts his new ‘Sun Day Red’ clothing range after ending his relationship with Nike last month, will host this week’s event at the Riviera Country Club in California.
Woods last played in the PNC Father-Son Championship with his son Charlie in mid-December after missing most of the 2023 season with injuries.
The 48-year-old birdied the 17th to get back to even par before a horrific shot at the 18th left him behind a tree. He managed to get to the green but couldn’t save par from it.
Speaking afterwards, Woods said: “My round was good and a little lackadaisical.” I struggled with the speed of the greens…they were much faster than he had ever seen here. I didn’t feel like I hit many greens today either. I missed a lot and got a little stressed on my short game. Today I took something like five pairs (note: there were seven), something stupid.’
Tiger Woods made his long-awaited return to action on the PGA Tour on Thursday.
The golf icon unveiled his new ‘Sun Day Red’ clothing range with TaylorMade
Woods, 48, last played in the PNC father-son Championship with his son Charlie in December.
Fellow American Patrick Cantlay currently leads the clubhouse at seven under par.
Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since the Masters due to ankle surgery.
He has played at Riviera 12 times as a professional without ever winning, the most he has played at any course without winning.
Because it is one of three “player-presented” events, the winner receives $4 million instead of $3.6 million.
This is the third time this year that a PGA Tour event will not have a defending champion due to Jon Rahm defecting to LIV Golf. Six of the last 10 winners at Riviera are now with the Saudi-backed breakaway.
“I’ve never won this event,” Woods said. ‘I have played in this event since 1992 and in the years that I have played I have never won this event. Hopefully, I can find something and be there in contention and maybe get a ‘W’ at the end of the week.’
Woods has made 15 starts at the Genesis, the most in any tournament without a win. He tied for 45th last year.
As usual, Woods drew a large crowd Thursday at California’s Riviera Country Club.
Walking 72 holes has been his problem in recent years, but the 15-time major champion said he can still hit the ball flush.
‘I don’t have the same speed that I used to have, I don’t have the ability to practice the same amount of hours, but I still work on making sure I can hit the ball in the middle of the face.’ he said. ‘If I can do that consistently, “One of the reasons I don’t have a choice right now is because my body day to day, week to week, just looks a little different.”
This is the third flagship event of 2024, leading to a smaller, star-studded field. There will be a 36-hole cut for the top 50 players plus those tied, along with anyone within 10 shots of the leader.
So far, the 2024 season has been dominated by lesser-known players aside from Wyndham Clark, last year’s US Open champion. All six players who have won a tournament so far (Chris Kirk, Grayson Murray, then-amateur Nick Dunlap, France’s Matthieu Pavon, Clark and Canada’s Nick Taylor) came in at odds of 100-1 or better.
That streak could end this week with 23 of the top 25 players in the Official World Golf Ranking competing for victory.
Woods, for what it’s worth, is 100-1 to win at BetMGM and 130-1 at DraftKings.
‘Trying to get used to the new sensations in the body. That’s always the challenge,” Woods said. ‘And the challenges of trying to prepare for the tour. … We have a lot of work ahead of us and we’re looking forward to it.’