Tiger Woods cites progress, notes difficulty in return at Riviera
Tiger Woods fired a two-over par 73 in the final round at the Genesis Invitational on Sunday, calling four completed rounds in his first start in seven months “progress” even if in classic Woods fashion he’d have liked to do better.
“It’s progress, but I didn’t win,” said the 15-time major champion, who is still limited by the severe lower right leg injuries he suffered in a February 2021 car accident, which have required multiple surgeries.
“It certainly was a little bit more difficult than I probably let on,” Woods added after posting a one-under par total of 283 for 72 holes.
“My team has been fantastic in getting my body recovered day to day and getting me ready to play each and every day.
“That’s the hard part that I can’t simulate at home,” Woods said. “Even if I played four days at home, it’s not the same as adrenaline, it’s not the same as the system being ramped up like that, the intensity, just the focus that it takes to play at this level.”
Woods, who reiterated this week that with spinal fusion surgery behind him and a right ankle that will always make walking any course a challenge, he can only hope to play all four major championships in a season with “a couple” of other events scattered through a year.
“That’s just going to be my future,” Woods said.
The first major of the year will be The Masters in April at Augusta National — where Woods won his fifth green jacket in 2019.
He didn’t specify if he might try to compete in another tournament before the Masters.
Woods hadn’t played a tour-level event since he missed the cut at the Open Championship in July.
Sidelined after his accident for the remainder of 2021, he made a stunning return at the Masters last year to finish tied for 47th. But he withdrew from the PGA Championship after the third round.
A return at Riviera continued Woods’s long history with the course, where he made his PGA Tour in 1992 as a 16-year-old high schooler playing on a sponsor’s exemption.
Unfortunate streak continues
He missed the cut — and Riviera remains the course he’s played most without a tournament victory, with a runner-up finish in 1999 his best result in 14 tournament starts.
“Unfortunately, my streak still continues,” he said.
His four-under par 67 on Saturday was Woods’s best round in relation to par since 2020.
But everything seemed just a little bit harder for the former world number one on Sunday.
After a birdie at the par-five first, he had bogeys at the fifth, eighth, ninth and 12th before rolling in a 30-footer for birdie at 13 that got him back into red numbers for the tournament.
At 15, however, he missed from within four feet for another bogey.
Woods bounced back quickly, sticking his tee shot at the par-three 16th within six feet and making that for birdie, but he was unable to take advantage of the par-five 17th, where he was in a greenside bunker on the way to a par.
He closed with a textbook par at 18 and had a wave for the large, supportive gallery.
While Woods has plenty of time to hang out with colleagues like Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy at home, teeing it up alongside them is different.
“I miss the fraternity of the guys,” he said, adding that after being away from the tour so much in recent years it’s also interesting to see “a lot of new faces out here that are going to be the future of our tour.”