“I’m excited to go out there and compete and play with these guys. “And I would not have put myself out here if I didn’t think I could beat these guys and win the event. That’s my mentality.”
So said Tiger Woods on Tuesday at posh Riviera Country Club. He’s been golf’s Odds-Defier-In-Chief as he’s now 47 and doing everything he can to defeat the odds once again. Tiger surprised the golf world last week with that simple tweet where he declared he was in the field for this week’s second straight Elevated Event and that would be the Genesis Invitational — where his TGR Foundation is the major beneficiary.
Yes, we’ve come to know Tiger’s mentality and that magnificent will to win that has carried him to 82 PGA Tour wins with 15 majors mixed in that resume.
Tiger can keep a secret better than anyone and he revealed that playing at Riviera was on his list. “The plan was to play,” Woods said to the gathered media types, none of whom saw this coming. “Whether or not this body would listen to me or not was the main question. And as I told some of you guys that were down at the Hero, and the Father-Son, I could do the Ranger Rick thing, so I can hit golf balls and do all that stuff; it’s matter of whether I have endurance in my leg, and we’ve been pushing it pretty good and able to recovery each and every day, which is great.”
And so Tiger is set with an all-star grouping for the first two rounds. He’ll play with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas on Thursday and Friday. What’s unusual is the tee time combination. Tiger and friends go late on Thursday (12:04 p.m. Pacific time) and early on Friday (7:25 a.m. Pacific time). That combination of times is usually testy for Woods given his precise preparation routine that takes time (hours) to warm up his 47-year-old body. Out late then out early is a task. Then there’s the weather. Early morning temperature on Friday is expected to be around 45-degrees and the cold isn’t the best of things for that surgically-repaired right leg.
Tiger was already thinking about the chill. “I’m excited to finally compete and play — a little colder than I thought,” he said of those predicted early morning chills in La-La-Land.
You can bet that L.A. will be hit with an outbreak of the First-Round-Flu given this Tiger-Rory-J.T. threesome for the first 36 holes. Tiger hasn’t played in a regular Tour event since the 2020 ZOZO that was moved to Sherwood Forest outside L.A. during COVID. He finished 68th.
Which brings us to expectations for Woods. Love his “that’s my mentality” but is it his reality? He pointed out that his latest issue is the right ankle. “The leg is better than it was last year. It’s gotten so much better the last couple of months.” Tiger noted that at the PNC with son Charlie — “I just didn’t have the endurance in my ankle.” We know he’s a rehab-maniac but admitted “I may have overdone it a couple of times but here I am.”
Yes, here you are Tiger, and you’re thrown right into the fire with two young guns — Rory and J.T. Tiger admitted he hasn’t walked 18 holes four days in a row in his preparation. He admitted he’s rusty but then added: “I’ve come off of rusty situations and done well.”
So the first question on everyone’s mind — can Tiger make the cut? Well he says he wouldn’t be in the field if he didn’t think he could win.
A “win” for Tiger would be to play well enough to make it to the weekend.
It’s been so darn long, it’s impossible to imagine him in contention.
But this is Tiger Woods.
“Would I like to play more? Yes. Will it (his body) allow me to?
“I don’t know.”
And that’s about as honest as Tiger can be.
Television Broadcast Schedule:
Thursday/Friday: Golf Channel 4-8 p.m. (EST)
Saturday: 1-3 p.m. (EST) Peacock Network; 3-7 p.m. (EST) CBS.
Sunday: 1-3 p.m. (EST) Peacock Network; 3-6:30 p.m. (EST) CBS.