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Woods seeks change in fortune at Riviera

Woods gets his second crack at a record-setting 83rd US PGA Tour title on the course
Tiger Woods

Agencies   |   Los Angeles   |   Published 12.02.20, 08:46 PM

Tiger Woods’s rich history at Riviera Country Club includes almost everything but a victory — something the US superstar hopes to change with a landmark win this week.

Woods gets his second crack at a record-setting 83rd US PGA Tour title on the course where he made his first US PGA Tour start as a 16-year-old in 1992.

At Torrey Pines in January, Woods insisted breaking the great Sam Snead’s record — which he matched with an 82nd career title at the Zozo Championship in October — was the last thing on his mind.

But at Riviera, Woods can feel history beckoning. “It has been mentioned,” he said with a grin. Woods missed the cut in that first Riviera outing in 1992, when he played on a sponsor’s exemption.

His fortunes haven’t improved that much on the classic course tucked into the Pacific Palisades west of downtown Los Angeles, although the venue where he played as a youngster, and turned out to watch the pros he would someday join, holds many memories.

“This was the second professional event I ever went to besides San Diego, coming up here and watching the guys play,” Woods said Tuesday as he prepared to tee it up in the Genesis Invitational, the tournament he hosts for the benefit of his TGR Foundation.

Woods has come up empty in 12 prior appearances at Riviera, where his best finish was a second place behind Ernie Els in 1999. He lost the tournament title to Billy Mayfair in 1998, but that edition was played at Valencia Country Club as Riviera prepared to host that year’s US Senior Open.

Woods actually skipped the tournament for a decade, missing the cut in his return in 2018. He finished 15th as JB Holmes came away with the win at the end of a cold rainy week. This year’s sunshine should be better for Woods’s balky back. “Bending, twisting, turning, moving,” the 44-year-old said of what movements give him trouble in the wake of multiple spinal surgeries. “Other than that, I’m all good.”

However, Woods will be up against a top-flight field featuring nine of the world’s top 10. That list is now headed by Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who edged into the No. 1 spot on Monday ahead of Brooks Koepka.

Meanwhile, Woods said he’s been approached by organizers of a proposed Premier Golf League and said he has “delved into the details” trying to understand how the new circuit would work. “My team is aware of it and we’ve delved into the details of it and trying to figure it out just like everyone else,” Woods said on Tuesday.

Mourning Bryant

More than two weeks after Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, Woods is among those who find the shock may have worn off but disbelief remains. “It’s hard to put into words what transpired and the fact that it’s a reality,” Woods said. “Part of me thinks it’s not real.”

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