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The Genesis Open: Tiger Woods Returns to the Scene of His Debut
February 15, 2018  | By Gerald Jordan
 

Granted the Genesis Open, which tees off from Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles at 2 p.m. ET Thursday on the Golf Channel, lacks the Shaun White drama of the Winter Olympics or the pairs skating beauty of the Games, but a fascinating weekend awaits golf fans. It marks…wait for it…the second stop this year for the return of Tiger Woods. He who can be identified by but one name will get back to the course where 1992 (below) marked the first time he teed it up against tour professionals; he was only 16. Now a mere 26 years after Tiger set golf fans’ hearts aflutter with his daring shot-making, deft putting and a will to win that downright intimidated his competitors, a mature Tiger is somewhat back.

Somewhat?

Rather than routinely arranging Sunday TV schedules to watch the ferociously talented youngster leave the rest of the field in his birdie-strewn wake, the hangers-on now wait with bated breath to see whether Tiger will make the cut. He did so a couple of weeks ago at Torrey Pines. Who the heck knows what he’ll do this week, but if he’s as pain free and as focused as he was in San Diego, he could be around for the weekend. Maybe his game won’t fall off the cart on the way up the interstate to the lovely Pacific Palisades section of L.A. And maybe because he has never won at Riviera, Tiger will have a little added motivation to ratchet his game up a notch.

By his own account, Tiger has said in interviews that he is grateful to be pain free and that he’s working his way up the conditioning ladder with an eye toward The Masters in April. He’s still a fierce competitor, but a 42-year-old one who recognizes the importance of pace more than ever.

The young guns will have a lot to say about who collects the nearly $1.3 million winner’s share of the $7.2 million purse. Dustin Johnson, whose drives have orbited the planet, is the defending champion. He’s off to a hot start, having won or placed no lower than second in his three starts this year.

Phil Mickelson (left) at 47 is still formidable. He was runner-up last week in the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. He won at Riviera in 2008 and 2009.

Riviera has a full field that will include Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar (yes, the U.S. Olympic Bronze medalist), Adam Scott, and Jordan Spieth.

The Golf Channel will begin airing the Genesis Open at 2 p.m. ET, Thursday. The tournament will continue at 4 p.m. ET, Friday, 2 p.m. ET, Saturday, and 1 p.m. ET, Sunday. Weekend coverage will be shared with CBS at 4 p.m. ET Saturday and 3 p.m. ET Sunday.

Here’s what would really be great: the flamboyant former Olympic skater Johnny Weir analyzing the final holes Sunday with Tiger in contention.

 
 
 
 
 
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