Genesis Invitational: Tiger Woods' challenge falls away in California

Ross Houston
February 15, 2020

Tournament host Tiger Woods, who is seeking a record 83rd PGA Tour title and a first win at Riviera, made the ideal start with an eagle from 25 feet on the first.

"I got off to a nice start on the front nine and just didn't hit many good shots on the back nine", Woods said. "A lot of good shots on the front nine".

Woods sank a 24-foot, 8-inch putt to eagle the first hole of his round.

During his round, Woods had two moments that served as tributes to Kobe Bryant, one intentional, and one that came more or less out of the blue.

Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash in California on Jan 26, and the PGA Tour dedicated the eighth hole at the Riviera Country Club with a purple-and-gold tee sign.

"It's ironic, isn't it?"

His seven birdies included a 28-footer at the 18th and a 33-footer at the eighth - his penultimate hole of the day.

"I made some pretty bad mistakes out there with balls in the fairway, with one ball in the fairway with wedge in my hand [15th] and another one with a sand-wedge in my hand [third] and played those two holes in three over". "I didn't know about the putt being that long". And then No. 8, happened to hit one in there close and had a nice little kick in there for birdie.

"For a while we are going to remember what he meant, especially here in southern California", Woods said of Bryant. "Like I said, very ironic that I happened to have those numbers on those holes and those exact measurements".

Woods entered the second round of the tournament tied for 17th, with Matt Kuchar leading after the first round with a seven-under day.

Of course, Woods made the putt.

Despite nuking a 335-yard drive on the par-4 15th, Woods flat-out blew this approach from 144 yards out from the center of the fairway, leaving an awkward lie in a greenside bunker. Woods lost three shots on two swings with a wedge in his hand and stumbled to a 73 that left him certain of making the cut, but little else.

A ideal drive on the par-five 17th was followed by a fairway wood to the heart of the green from 289 yards and McIlroy nonchalantly holed the eagle putt from 35 feet to move into red figures.

Woods was still a teenager when he played his first U.S. tour event at Riviera, but he has never won on the classic course in the Pacific Palisades west of Los Angeles in 12 prior tries, and his struggles continued on Thursday.

Nevertheless it seemed he'd found a groove when he belted his tee shot at the first and with 171 yards to the pin hit an eight-iron to within 25 feet.

Kuchar, who was part of Tiger Woods' triumphant Presidents' Cup team in Melbourne in December, is without a solo victory since the 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii more than a year ago.

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