Woods aims for a bet­ter Riviera show

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS -

LOS AN­GE­LES: Tiger Woods finds a lot of things to love about Riviera Coun­try Club, but his record here isn’t one of them.

“I love the golf course, I love the lay­out, it fits my eye — and I play aw­ful,” Woods said on Tues­day as he pre­pared to tee it up in the Gen­e­sis Open start­ing to­day on the clas­sic course nes­tled in the hills of Pa­cific Pal­isades, west of down­town Los An­ge­les.

“It’s just one of those weird things.” Woods and Riviera go way back. He made his first PGA Tour start as a 16-yearold at Riviera in 1992, play­ing on a spon­sor’s ex­emp­tion and miss­ing the cut.

He went on to pile up 79 US tour ti­tles and 14 ma­jor cham­pi­onships, but in 10 ap­pear­ances at Riviera his best fin­ish was sec­ond place in 1998, which he fol­lowed with a tie for sec­ond in 1999.

It’s the only tour­na­ment he has played so of­ten and never won. He last played the tour­na­ment in 2006, and he might have re­mained es­tranged from Riviera if he hadn’t taken over as tour­na­ment host last year.

His sched­uled re­turn in 2017 was foiled by yet more back trou­ble.

A year ago Woods was in such pain he couldn’t even sit through a pre-tour­na­ment press con­fer­ence, let alone com­pete.

He’s now play­ing with­out pain af­ter spinal fu­sion surgery in April.

But Woods says that in ad­di­tion to try­ing to solve Riviera, he also has a lot to learn about his post-fu­sion body and his game.

“I’d even­tu­ally like to win tour­na­ments,” the 42-year-old said of his goals in this lat­est come­back. “I’m try­ing to get through that process, get to that point.”

A tie for 23rd at the Farm­ers In­surance Open three weeks ago was a promis­ing start, de­spite Woods’s strug­gles off the tee at Tor­rey Pines.

As at Tor­rey, Woods is the star at­trac­tion this week in a field that fea­tures world No.1 and de­fend­ing cham­pion Dustin John­son, four-time ma­jor-win­ner Rory McIl­roy, PGA Tour Player of the Year Justin Thomas and reign­ing British Open cham­pion Jor­dan Spi­eth.

And as at Tor­rey, he was care­ful to tem­per ex­pec­ta­tions.

“I’ve been away from the game a pretty long time,” he said. “I have a long way to go.”

He won’t com­mit to play­ing in next week’s Honda Clas­sic in Florida un­til he sees how his body re­sponds to his sec­ond tour­na­ment of the year.

Tiger Woods

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