PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Despite hitting 17 of Riviera's 18 greens, Tiger Woods could only manage a one-under 70 in the opening round of the Genesis Open.
That's what happens when you three-putt four times and need 34 total putts for the day.
"Hit it well and putted awful," Woods said. "Four three-putts is ridiculous."
Woods, playing alongside Justin Thomas (who shot 66) and Rory McIlroy (72), was two over after his second three putt of the day on 7 before rattling off four birdies in a row. The streak was broken by a three putt on 12, but he would get that shot back after sticking his approach to inside 15 feet on the par-4 14th.
The final and most painful three-whack of the day came from just 20 feet as rain began to fall on the par-5 17th. Woods ran his birdie effort about four feet by and didn't scare the hole with the par effort.
"I just couldn't get comfortable with my posture," Woods said. "Need to fix it quickly."
Quickly indeed—Woods' first round was rained out on Thursday, and his group was scheduled to tee off their second round just over 45 minutes after the first round ended. They are unlikely to finish the second round by nightfall on Friday, meaning they'll likely have to come back to finish early Saturday morning.
Hole 1 (Par 5): PAR — EVEN for the day
The first hole at Riviera is really a par 4.5, as most players will have just a mid–iron into the green after a steeply downhill tee shot. It’s a perfect opportunity to get into red numbers quickly. Tiger hit driver down the left side and immediately liked his tee shot, a flat cut down the left side of the fairway. After watching McIlroy find the green from just a few yards away, Woods caught his second shot significantly heavy and dumped it in the front bunker. From there he splashed to about 10 feet below the hole, but the birdie putt missed right. An opening par is a missed opportunity, particularly after finding the fairway off the tee. Both Thomas and McIlroy made birdie.
Hole 2 (Par 4): PAR — EVEN for the day
The second at Riviera is as biting as the first is benign, a 470-yard uphill par 4 with a difficult-to-hit fairway and a narrow green. Tiger’s driver missed about five yards right of the fairway and caught a hairy lie in the wet Bermuda. He dug out an iron but couldn’t quite get it to the green, finishing about 10 yards short. A straightforward chip scared the hole, and that’s another par. Even through 2.
Hole 3 (Par 4): BOGEY — +1 for the day
A less than ideal start ball-striking wise. Tiger liked his drive but it caught a ridge and finished about a yard left of the fairway. A decent lie, but he looked to catch his wedge heavy yet again, finishing on the front edge of the green, a good 60 feet short. The first putt didn’t have enough pace and left about a six footer, which never scared the hole. Three-putt bogey.
Hole 4 (Par 3): PAR — +1 for the day
The 4th hole at Riviera is typically one of the hardest par 3 greens to hit on tour... when it plays at its normal 220+ yards. The tees are up about 30 yards today, and Tiger hit a nice mid-iron just left of the flag, leaving an uphill birdie effort of about 15 feet. Another miss to the right and he stays on the wrong side of par.
Hole 5 (Par 4): PAR — +1 for the day
A fairway wood missed the fairway by just a yard but catches a good lie. Tiger played safely left of a sucker pin and left himself 30 feet up the hill. Routine two putt and he remains one over.
Hole 6 (Par 3): PAR — +1 for the day
The sixth is one of the more unique par 3s on tour, with a bunker smack dab in the middle of the green. The pin today is just a couple yards left of the bunker, making virtually everyone stay safely left. Tiger did exactly that and gave his 20-footer for birdie a great roll, but it stayed on the high side. +1 through 6 without a birdie.
Hole 7 (Par 4): BOGEY — +2 for the day
Well, Tiger and Riviera seem to be not getting along once again. Woods found the fairway with his 3–wood and played his second shot left of the flag, leaving an uphill putt of about 30 feet. He was a bit frisky with the birdie effort, running it by about three feet, then missed the comebacker. He has struggled on poa annua greens throughout his career and has not looked comfortable today. Two over through 7.
Hole 8 (Par 4): BIRDIE — +1 for the day
The 8th features a split fairway, and Tiger went with driver and played an aggressive shot down the left side. He didn’t like his wedge approach but the distance control was ideal, leaving just 15 feet downhill. After watching Rory sink his birdie from a similar line, Tiger did the same. First birdie of the day gets him back to 1 over on the round.
Hole 9 (Par 4): BIRDIE — EVEN for the day
The ball striking has sorted itself out a bit, as Tiger found the fairway with driver on the 9th. (Side note: in the four-plus rounds we’ve seen in 2019, Tiger's swinging within himself with the driver and the dispersion has been tight). A silky wedge to about four feet leads to his second birdie in a row to make the turn at an even-par 35
Hole 10 (Par 4): BIRDIE — –1 for the day
On a bit of a run now! Frequently referred to as the finest short par 4 in the world, the 10th at Riviera forces players to make a choice: try to drive the narrow green and risk a big number or lay up and try to make birdie with a wedge. Tiger went aggressive and pulled driver, missing just left of the green in the fairway grass. That left a super–delicate pitch over a bunker onto a sliver of green. He nipped it perfectly, leaving himself about four feet again right below the hole. The birdie effort snuck in the right side and he's now made three birdies in a row to get back to red numbers...with a par 5 next.
Hole 11 (Par 4): BIRDIE — –2 for the day
Woods is hitting the driver very well today and found the right side of the fairway on the reachable par 5 11th. His fairway wood approach from 269 was right on line but a little short, leaving a straightforward and makeable chip. He actually stuck it in the ground a bit and left himself about 7 feet but rattled the birdie right in the center. Four birdies in a row and there’s some pep in his step.
Hole 12 (Par 4): BOGEY — –1 for the day
Every golfer knows it, from the world's best to the weekend hacks: three putts will kill you. Tiger made his third of the day on 12 after finding the rough off the tee and the front of the green with his approach. Like the one at 3, this three-jack came from about 60 feet, but a three-jack nonetheless. That saps a bit of momentum and he drops back to one under.
Hole 13 (Par 4): PAR — –1 for the day
Tiger plays a cut with his driver these days, so the dogleg left 13th presented a bit of a visual challenge. No matter—he turned over a baby draw right down the center, then stuck a mid iron to 5 feet. But instead of racking up another birdie, he once again missed the putt to the right, and looked annoyed afterwards. He’s now missed three putts inside 8 feet today.
Hole 14 (Par 3): BIRDIE — –2 for the day
When Tiger’s at his best, he varies his iron trajectory like no one else on Tour. This was one of those punch cuts he likes to use to chase back to right pins, and it finished about 10 feet left below the hole. Dead center with the birdie effort and he’s back to two under.
Hole 15 (Par 4): PAR — –2 for the day
After a drive down the left side, Tiger hit the middle of the green giving himself a look at yet another birdie. An aggressive attempt ran past the hole, but Woods was able to make the comebacker for par.
Hole 16 (Par 3): PAR — –2 for the day
A nice draw off the tee puts Tiger on the green in regulation yet again—but not within striking distance. Woods hit a nice 30-foot lag putt to get yet another par heading into a potential birdie hole.
Hole 17 (Par 5): BOGEY — –1 for the day
Yikes—all four of Tiger's bogeys have come via three-putts today. Tiger found the left rough with his drive and had to layup, but he put himself in fine position to attack a back right pin. A solid wedge to about 20 feet below the hole set up a good look at birdie, but he ran it by on the right. The three–footer for par didn’t even hit the hole, and that’s a painful 6 with the difficult 18th up next.
Hole 18 (Par 4): PAR — –1 for the day
After a booming drive down the middle, Tiger drew a six-iron beautifully to hit the green on the difficult 18th. After watching Justin Thomas drain his birdie putt on the same line, Woods was unable to connect on his attempt, running it by once again. Woods finishes with a par and a one-under 70 on the day.