Whether he knew it in the moment or not, Tiger Woods found a unique way to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant on Thursday afternoon, doing so just west of Staples Center at Riviera Country Club.
Woods hit an 8-iron into the par-5 green on the first hole of the opening round of the Genesis Invitational. He was left with 24 feet, eight inches for an eagle chance—the numbers, of course, that Bryant wore throughout his two-decade NBA career.
Woods buried the eagle putt en route to a 2-under 69.
"It’s ironic, isn’t it?" Woods said afterward. "I didn’t know about the putt being that long.”
The 8th hole at Riviera is also paying specific tribute to Bryant.
The tee box has the word "Mamba" written on it and the green has a pin with a yellow flag and a purple No. 8.
Woods made birdie on the hole Thursday.
On Jan. 26, Woods learned that Bryant, Bryant's daughter and seven others had died in a helicopter crash after walking off the 18th green at the Farmers Insurance Open.
"I didn't really understand why the people in the gallery were saying, 'Do it for Mamba' but now I understand," Woods said at the time. "It's a shocker to everyone. Unbelievably sad and one of the more tragic days. For me, reality is just sinking in because I was told about five minutes ago."
Woods, a longtime Lakers fan, was asked what he admired most about Bryant.
"The fire," Woods said. "He burned so competitively hot. And the desire to win. He brought it each and every night on both ends of the floor. Not too many guys can say that throughout NBA history that he'd lock up on D and he was obviously dominant on the offensive side."