Woods aims for a better Riviera show
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.