All Eyes on Tiger Woods as Comeback Continues at Riviera

The latest chapter of the current Tiger Woods career reboot will be written on the storied fairways of Riviera Golf Club this week.

The course, which sits just off Sunset Boulevard, plays host to the Genesis Open and with that event tied to the Tiger Woods Foundation, there was never much doubt about him playing provided he was fit.

Woods answered that question at the Farmers Insurance Open, where he produced sparks of class on his way to a 23rd-placed finish – and importantly he showed no signs of any issues with the back that underwent fusion surgery last year.

After proving his fitness, the time is coming for Woods to show he can still cut it at the top level of the game.

Having to do it at Riviera is probably not the place he would have chosen. The 14-time major champion has mixed memories of the Los Angeles track, as he made his PGA Tour debut at the venue as an amateur in 1992. He missed the cut, and in 10 visits he has never made it into the winner’s circle.

Whether it’s a mixture of scheduling or lack of appetite for the track, Woods has not played a competitive round at Riviera since 2006.

Being in the spotlight will not faze Woods, so the extra demands of being tournament host are unlikely to impact on his performance, it’s whether he can bring his best to a course that he has struggled on in the past and take on some of the elite of the sport.

While Woods is the star man in world golf, the game has not hung around during his injury absence – with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas making their mark on the sport with major titles.

All three of DJ, Spieth and Thomas are in the field – as is Rory McIlroy and a seemingly revitalised Phil Mickelson following his second place last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am– and it all means the task facing Woods is huge.

Johnson will step onto the first tee as favourite to defend the title he won last year. His record at Riviera is copper bottomed, as along with his win last year he finished fourth in 2016 and runner-up in 2015 and 2014. If horses for courses is your go-to option, look no further than the world number one.

Whether Johnson, Spieth, Thomas or McIlroy is your preferred choice, everyone will have an eye on Woods to see if the career reboot really is a genuine thing.