SAN DEIGO, CA – JANUARY 26: Tiger Woods shakes hands with Patrick Reed on the ninth hole after finishing the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South on January 26, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
By Alex Myers
Tiger Woods said he was “very pleased” with his T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open following last week’s final round at Torrey Pines. After a few days of reflection, the 14-time major champ seemed just as thrilled with his performance, and equally excited about his next start.
“It felt so good to be back with the guys and compete again,” Woods wrote on his website. “Words can’t describe how much I missed it. Most importantly, I was pain-free.”
Woods said he’s “fired up to return to Riviera,” which is where he’ll make his next start at the Genesis Open in two weeks. After attending the event as a kid, Woods made his first PGA Tour start there in 1992 when he was 16, shooting 72-75 and missing the cut on a sponsor’s exemption. But Woods tells a story about how he almost qualified for the event the year before.
The second time I tried to qualify to play Riviera, I was 15 and we played the South Course at Los Serranos Country Club. It was a moment I will never forget. I was playing the best round of my life and was 8-under par through 17 holes, thinking I was actually going to qualify for a PGA TOUR event. The head pro came up to me and said, “I have to tell you, because I know it’s going to change how you play this last hole,” which was a par-5 with a second shot over water. “There are already two guys at 10-under and only two make it.”
I said, “What?” I had to eagle the last hole to get into a playoff and I hit my second shot in the water, made bogey and shot 65.
Woods’ TGR Live company began managing the Genesis Open in 2017, and profits from the event go to his foundation. Oddly, despite all his ties to the tournament, it’s the PGA Tour event where Tiger has arguably his poorest track record. In nine starts as a pro, he has zero wins and two runner-ups, one of which came at Valencia Country Club, where Woods lost a playoff to Billy Mayfair in 1998. Woods last played in the event in 2006.
“I’ve had several chances to win at Riviera, but just haven’t gotten it done,” Woods writes. “Obviously, it would mean a lot to me, even more now as tournament host.”