Tiger Woods came out roaring in the opening round of the Genesis Invitational on Thursday, though a cool finish prevented him from threatening for the lead in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Woods, the tournament host, shot a 2-under-par 69 at Riviera Country Club, finishing five strokes behind leader Matt Kuchar. While Kuchar fired a 7-under 64, no other player bettered 67, with five players tied in second at 4 under.
Another 10 players are at 3 under — including world No. 1 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Australia’s Jason Day, Patrick Cantlay, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau — with Woods finishing alongside 15 players another stroke back. Among others at 2 under are Brooks Koepka and England’s Justin Rose.
Woods is chasing a record 83rd career win on the PGA Tour and also seeking to snap a drought at Riviera — this is the lone PGA Tour event where he has made at least 10 career starts without winning. Thursday marked his 14th start in the event.
The 44-year-old flew out of the gates, reaching the green on the par-5 first hole in two and draining a 25-foot putt for eagle. After three straight pars, Woods stuck his 8-iron from 154 yards at the par-4 fifth inside of 3 feet and tapped in for birdie. He repeated the feat from 103 yards at the par-4 eighth, dropping a wedge to tap-in distance to reach 4 under for the round.
But things stalled from there, as Woods struggled off the tee on the back nine and failed to convert a few putts. He missed a 13-foot birdie try at the par-5 11th, then missed a 6-footer to save par at the par-4 12th. He got up and down for pars at Nos. 13 and 15 but failed to take advantage of the final par-5, No. 17.
At the par-4 18th, Woods’ drive sailed well right, forcing him to play out to the fairway, 150 yards from the hole. His approach settled 29 feet from the pin, and he two-putted for bogey to cap his round.
“Got off to a nice start on that front nine, then just didn’t hit many good shots on the back nine,” Woods told reporters. “Made a couple loose swings ... made a couple of good saves on the back nine for par, but just wasn’t able to get any birdies on the back nine.”
Playing with Justin Thomas and Steve Stricker, Woods’ group will tee off at 10:16 a.m. ET on Friday.
“Considering I’m still on East Coast time, I kind of like it,” Woods said of the early second-round start. “It’ll be a quick turnaround to get back at it. Hopefully we’ll have a bit smoother greens out there on the golf course.
“Hopefully I can hit it as good as I did on the front nine to give myself a number of looks for the entire 18 holes, not just nine holes.”
—Field Level Media