PACIFIC PALISADES (CBSLA/AP) – The $7.2 million Genesis Open begins Thursday at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades with Tiger Woods playing in the tournament for the first time since 2006.
He has played Riviera eight times as a pro, the most of any PGA Tour course where he hasn’t won.
Woods resumes his comeback from a fourth back surgery, marking his return to the course where he made his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old amateur, and the course where he walked away in the middle of the tournament and never returned.
“I love the golf course. I love the layout. It fits my eye,” Woods said. “And I play awful. It’s very simple. It’s just one of those weird things. A lot of the holes, you hit nice, soft cuts. And I used to love to hit nice, soft cuts. And for some reason, I just didn’t play well.”
Woods is playing for the first time since tying for 23rd in last month’s Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, seven shots off the lead in his first PGA Tour event in a year after being sidelined following a fourth back surgery.
The only soreness Woods reported after playing in the tournament was in his feet.
“I’m not used to walking,” Woods said. “I’m used to being in a cart playing 36 holes. It’s a good sore, it’s just different.”
Woods said he mainly “just tried to clean up my swing” in the two weeks since the Farmers Insurance Open.
“I felt we could all see how bad I was driving it, so I was able to clean that up a little bit and still keep my putting sharp,” Woods said.
Woods has played just 17 times on the PGA Tour over the last four years dating to his first back surgery a week before the 2014 Masters. He hasn’t won in nearly five years. He is No. 550 in the world.
Woods said the Riviera course has change substantially since he last played on it in a tournament.
“Everything’s bigger now,” Woods said. “The bunkers are deeper, they seem to be bigger. The greens have gotten more pin locations than I remember.”
Woods lost the Genesis Open in a playoff to Billy Mayfair in 1998, his only loss in 12 playoffs on the PGA Tour. He finished in a three-way tie for second in 1999, two strokes behind Ernie Els.
The 42-year-old Woods will be playing in the first two rounds in a threesome that also includes fellow American Justin Thomas and Northern Ireland star Rory McIlroy.
The tournament winner will receive $1.296 million and a Genesis G80 Sport, the newest mid-sized luxury sedan of the brand whose parent company is South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group.
The first player in each round with a hole-in-one on the par-3 14th or 16th holes will also win a Genesis G80 Sport, as will his caddy. No players had holes-in-one on either hole last year. Ryan Moore and Tyrone Van Aswegen had holes in one on the 16th hole in 2016. The last player with a hole-in-one on the 14th hole was Rich Beem in 2007.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)