Tiger Woods offered his reflections on Torrey Pines in his latest blog post, and looks ahead to his next start at Riviera – a place that has had a big impact on his career.
Woods returned to the Farmers Insurance Open following a 12 month absence from the game, making his first cut in a PGA Tour event since 2015 and ending up T23 – an impressive feat given he hit just 17 of 56 fairways during the week.
Following his final round on Sunday Woods admitted he was ‘very pleased’ with how the week had gone, and his latest blog post reveals just how much he missed being out there.
“What a difference a year makes,” Woods wrote. “I had fusion surgery last April and recently competed in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, my first full-field event in a year and only my second since August of 2015. I finished T23, and all in all, it was a very positive start.”
“It felt so good to be back with the guys and compete again. Words can’t describe how much I missed it. Most importantly, I was pain-free.”
His next event is the Genesis Open from Feb 15-18, which is hosted by Woods’ TGR Live company, and Woods said he is “fired up to return to Riviera”.
Woods hasn’t returned to Riviera since he WD in 2006, and he said in January it was because he’s “just never played it well. That’s the only reason.”
What he means is that in his last seven outings at Riviera from 1997-2005 (excluding the ’06 WD), he hasn’t ended the tournament worse than T20. But for Tiger, a handful of top 10s and a best finish of runner up in ’99 wasn’t good enough.
He said in his latest blog it’s somewhere where “it would mean a lot” to win, and it’s unsurprising given that its a place where he has a lot of history.
He teed up there at the age of 16 in 1992 and went on to shoot rounds of 72-75 – but in his blog he delves a little deeper into his experiences there.
In the entry Woods shares some illuminating memories of one his early experiences trying to qualify and play at Riviera and goes on to describe his first start, proving just how motivating they were to his career.
Read the extract below…
“The second time I tried to qualify to play Riviera, I was 15 and we played the South Course at Los Serranos Country Club. It was a moment I will never forget. I was playing the best round of my life and was 8-under par through 17 holes, thinking I was actually going to qualify for a PGA TOUR event. The head pro came up to me and said, “I have to tell you, because I know it’s going to change how you play this last hole,” which was a par-5 with a second shot over water. “There are already two guys at 10-under and only two make it.”
I said, “What?” I had to eagle the last hole to get into a playoff and I hit my second shot in the water, made bogey and shot 65.
The next year, 1992, I received a sponsor’s exemption and didn’t play that badly, shooting 72-75. Maybe I could have made up a couple more shots per round, but I felt pretty good about it.
Then I looked at the scoreboard and I’m 17 strokes behind Davis Love III. It was eye-opening knowing that I was really not that good. I thought I could play the game, but obviously I wasn’t worth a lick compared to these guys and had a long way to go.
Needless to say, it was very motivating. At the time, I hadn’t played amateur golf yet; just junior golf. I skipped the amateur ranks to play in one event. It made me more determined than ever to work on my game and improve.