LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods and his TGR Foundation took over the Genesis Open at Riviera two years ago, and now the PGA Tour is elevating it to the same status as tournaments hosted by Jack Nicklaus and the late Arnold Palmer.
Still to be determined is whether Woods can actually win the one PGA Tour event that has his number.
Riviera is where a 16-year-old Woods made his PGA Tour debut on a sponsor exemption. This is the closest PGA Tour event to where he grew up in Orange County. Riviera also is the PGA Tour course he has played the most times — nine — without winning.
“It is certainly a love-hate relationship,” Woods said Wednesday after getting through his pro-am ahead of the rain. “I love playing this golf course. I always have. I enjoyed playing up here when I was young with my dad. For some reason, I’ve only played well here one time in the tournament.”
That was in 1999, a few months before the first major overhaul in his swing took root. He was tied with Ernie Els and Ted Tryba going to the back nine before Els ran off three straight birdies and no one could catch him. Woods was runner-up his best finish at Riviera.
The real measure was in 2000, when Woods either won or was runner-up in 10 out of 11 starts on the PGA Tour.
The exception? A tie for 18th at Riviera.
Woods gets another crack in what figures to be cold, wet conditions because of another storm system that is likely to linger through the opening round. He is in the same group as Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, just like last year, when Woods missed the cut for the only time in 2018 at a regular PGA Tour event.
Expectations are slightly higher, though it’s still early in the season.
Woods, who ended last season by winning the Tour Championship for his 80th career victory, had a pedestrian start to the year last month at Torrey Pines when he rallied with a 67 on the final day to tie for 20th.
“I’m in a very different position now having played an entire season, and I know what my body can and cannot do,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to this week. Hopefully I can finally play this golf course well.”
The field is stacked, though it is missing the top two players in the world ranking as Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka are taking the week off. It includes Phil Mickelson, a two-time winner at Riviera who is coming off a victory at Pebble Beach last week.
Riviera has attracted the strongest field in regular PGA Tour events on the West Coast Swing every year since 2006, and this is no exception. The field also features Dustin Johnson, who considers Riviera his favorite track and has a victory to show for it.
So does Bubba Watson, the defending champion and a three-time winner, though his main infatuation is that it’s not far from Hollywood and all the movie stars.
“The only thing I’ve got on Tiger is that I’ve won here,” Watson said.
This post was originally posted at https://nypost.com/2019/02/13/tiger-woods-cant-seem-to-win-on-course-at-tourney-hes-hosting/. WGEH does not own this content and is not responsible for it.