Tiger opens Riviera with 69, pays tribute to Kobe

7:41 PM ET

  • Bob HarigESPN Senior Author


    • Senior golf author for
    • Coated golf for greater than 20 years
    • Earned Evans Scholarship to attend Indiana College

LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods produced the sort of begin that has been so usually missing in his rounds at Riviera Nation Membership through the years.

He simply could not fairly maintain it.

After eagling his opening gap and making two extra birdies over the primary 9 holes to shoot 31, Woods cooled off within the first spherical of the Genesis Invitational and settled for a rating of 69 on Thursday.

It was a disappointing again 9 after a lot good over the primary 9 holes.

“I bought off to a pleasant begin on the entrance 9 and simply did not hit many good pictures on the again 9,” Woods stated. “Made a pair free swings and made a pair good saves on the again 9 for par, however simply wasn’t capable of get any birdies on the again 9.”

Woods famous that he had not practiced on website a lot this week, particularly on the driving vary.

“I used to be making an attempt to piece it collectively on the vary and I did job of determining how you can make stable contact and get the ball not off course and was capable of get off to a fast begin there with a fast 3,” he stated. “Plenty of good pictures on the entrance 9. Those I did miss at present had been usually left and clearly did not hit ’em proper.”

Throughout his red-hot entrance 9, Woods had a few Kobe Bryant-related moments in his first full occasion since Bryant’s loss of life final month in a helicopter crash. The primary was his eagle putt on the par-5 opening gap, which measured at 24 ft, Eight inches (Bryant’s numbers).

Then on the eighth gap, which has a Kobe No. Eight flag in Lakers colours this week at Riviera, he paid tribute to Bryant by doing a one-handed basketball-like shot of his ball again to his caddie after making birdie.

— ESPN (@espn) February 13, 2020

“It is ironic, is not it? It was a pleasant strategy to begin,” stated Woods, who was good mates with Bryant. “I did not know concerning the putt being that lengthy. As I stated, ironic that having these two numbers. After which No. 8, occurred to hit one in there shut and had a pleasant little kick in there for birdie.

“It doesn’t matter what we do, I feel for some time we will at all times bear in mind Kobe and what he meant, and particularly right here in SoCal and the whole sports activities world. Like I stated, very ironic that I occurred to have these numbers on these holes and people actual measurements.”

Matt Kuchar‘s opening-round 64 has him 4 forward of a slew of gamers underneath par, and Woods may rue not profiting from a picture-perfect day in Southern California.

For the primary time since 2004, Woods shot a entrance 9 of Four underneath or higher, and it was solely the second time he shot underneath par over holes one by way of 9 in his previous eight makes an attempt.

However after making the flip, Woods missed the golf green properly left on the brief par-4 10th whereas making an attempt to drive the inexperienced; he settled for a par. After hitting a tree off the tee on the par-5 11th, he was in place to make a birdie when he wedged to 10 ft however could not get the putt to drop.

His first bogey got here on the par-4 12th, the place his strategy rolled simply over the inexperienced. On the 13th, his tee shot was once more left, forcing him to chip out, however he bought it up and down from the golf green, making a 5-footer for par. He additionally saved par from 7 ft on the 15th.

Then on the par-5 17th, Woods discovered a fairway bunker, needed to wedge down the golf green and nonetheless had 200 yards left for his third shot, leaving himself a 70-footer that he managed to two-putt to avoid wasting par. Woods hit solely one in all seven fairways on the again 9 and made no birdies over the closing 10 holes.

Woods is the host of the event, which this 12 months was given elevated standing, making it just like the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial. The closest PGA Tour cease to Woods’ childhood residence in Cypress, California, Woods has by no means gained at Riviera in 12 tries, probably the most of any event he has performed and not using a victory.

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