PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA – In a city built on star power and storylines, Tiger Woods’ return to Riviera Country Club for the Genesis Open this week has the feel of something special.
The golf itself Thursday?
Well, it’s still a work in progress, as Woods’ 1-over-par 72 playing alongside Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas in cool, sunny conditions suggested.
It could have been better, though perhaps not a whole lot better.
And, it could have been worse.
“It was all right,” is how Woods described his opening round in an event he hasn’t played since 2006.
Building off his debut at Torrey Pines three weeks ago, Woods still struggled with his accuracy off the tee, hitting just eight fairways. At the par-5 11th (his second hole), Woods lost his tee shot when it lodged in a eucalyptus tree, leading to an early double bogey. He also had a big miss off the ninth tee (his last hole) but saved par there.
“It looks OK,” McIlroy said. “He hit some great drives coming in, he drove it much better …
“He was unlucky that ball was stuck up in the tree on 11. That should never have happened. He hit it much better on the back nine, saw some good signs, just a better rhythm, a little bit better tempo from the top.”
Woods changed shafts in his driver this week, going back to a stiffer shaft he used at the 2015 Wyndham Championship, when he had one of his better weeks of more recent vintage off the tee.
“I just have to go and get a little more confidence to go ahead and hit this thing because when I do, it’s awfully good,” Woods said.
While Thomas opened with a 69 and McIlroy shot 71, Woods found himself scrambling at times to keep his round together.
“I was 1 under early, the first hole, and all of a sudden I went double (bogey), bogey and I was like, ‘Oh man, here we go. I’ve got to somehow turn this thing around,’ ” Woods said. “And I was able to do that. I had a couple of nice putts … and really hung in there well.”