Tiger Woods was clad in his hallmark red for the final round at the Farmers Insurance Open last month when he took a compact swipe at his 141-yard approach shot on the second hole. The ball found the green and took two short hops before it bounced in and out of the cup, leaving him with a short putt for birdie.
It was a near miss that delighted the massive crowd that had formed around the green. But from his position on the fairway, Woods wore an impassive expression. He neither smiled nor scowled. He just seemed to be going about his familiar business at Torrey Pines Golf Course, a tract in San Diego that he knew well.
Woods did not win the tournament — he finished in a six-way tie for ninth place — but he was in contention throughout, and there was no question that he was the center of attention. Fans surrounded him on every tee box and green. They screamed his name and begged for autographs. One couple even showed up for his final round in his-and-hers tiger costumes.
Fan hysterics have been a staple at his tournament appearances for decades, but they are now coming during a renaissance of sorts, as Woods, 44, looks to build on the momentum he has accrued since winning the Masters last season.
A keen student of golf history, Woods knows what is out there for him to achieve this weekend at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles — a tournament that his foundation is hosting. A victory at Riviera would push him past Sam Snead for sole ownership of the record for career wins on the PGA Tour, with 83.
Woods won tournament No. 82 in October at the inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan, a stunning result after he took a two-month hiatus following knee surgery. He went on to captain the United States to a Presidents Cup victory in mid-December with more brilliant play.
The twist is that Woods has never won at Riviera, which also happens to be the course where he played in his first professional tournament at age 16.
“I’ve played in a number of events over the years, and for me not to win an event that means so much to me in my hometown — I just haven’t done well here,” Woods said Tuesday at a news conference. “Hopefully, I can put it together this week, and we’ll have a great conversation on Sunday.”
Woods said that after the Presidents Cup, he went a couple of weeks without touching a club until his 44th birthday on Dec. 30, when he played a round with his son, Charlie. Between his Masters win in April and his most recent victories, Woods had sought to manage the rigors of his Tour schedule, given his recovery from four back surgeries, the most recent of which was a spinal fusion he underwent in 2017.
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SOURCE: The Indian Express