Tiger Woods has made an “extraordinary” return to the PGA Tour at the Genesis Invitational, his first regular tour event since October 2020.
Huge crowds have turned out at Riviera Country Club in California to see Woods in action, with the 47-year-old now playing a limited schedule following a series of back and leg injuries – the latter a legacy of his 2021 car accident.
“Extraordinary scenes here, big crowds following Tiger Woods,” Nine’s Jonathan Kearsley said on Today.
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“What a start it was for him, sinking a birdie putt on the opening hole.”
Woods is paired with world No.2 Rory McIlroy and two-time PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas.
He rolled in a birdie putt of just under four feet at the par-five first, but gave that shot back at the par-three fourth, where he failed to get up-and-down after missing the green with his tee shot.
American Max Homa holds the clubhouse lead at seven under par, one clear of former world No.1 Jon Rahm.
Despite his limited preparation, Woods says he’s drawn inspiration from the record-breaking achievements of LeBron James, who has set a new NBA points-scoring mark.
Woods, who remains level with Sam Snead on 82 PGA Tour wins, says he remains optimistic of a record-breaking 83rd victory.
“If I’m playing in the event, I’m going to try and beat you,” he said.
“What he [James] accomplished is absolutely incredible – just the durability, the consistency and the longevity.
“I grew up watching Kareem here … that record we never thought it would be surpassed. What LeBron is doing – but also the amount of minutes he’s playing – no one’s ever done that at that age, to be able to play all five positions, that’s never been done before at this level for this long.
“As far as our equivalent to that, I don’t know, maybe you look at maybe me and Sam [Snead] at 82? It takes a career to get to those numbers. That’s how I think probably best how you look at it.”
Since his accident Woods has been restricted to playing the majors only, most recently missing the cut at the Open Championship in St Andrews in 2022.
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