Tiger Woods reflects on 'great round' after making return at the Genesis Invitational

By Sports Desk February 17, 2023

Tiger Woods was battling a combination of overflowing adrenaline and rust as he made his return to the course for Thursday's opening round of the Genesis Invitational.

Woods birdied his first hole, but struggled with some makeable putts soon after, dropping to one over by the time he reached the 15th hole.

From that point on it was like the Tiger of old, collecting a two on the par-three 16th, drilling a long birdie putt on the par-five 17th, and placing a beautiful approach on the 18th to set-up his third birdie in a row to finish.

Reflecting on his performance afterwards, Woods said he felt the pressure to sink the final birdie.

"I didn't want to be the idiot host to miss it right in front of everybody after I just went birdie-birdie," he said with a smile. "It was a great round."

Playing alongside two-time major champion Justin Thomas and renowned long-driver Rory McIlroy, Woods said he even surprised himself as he out-drove his partners on a few occasions.

"There's nothing like come game time, just the feeling of the butterflies and trying to calm all that stuff down," he said. "Even though it's cold out here, [the ball] was going even further than we expected. I had to dial all that back in.

"I was trying to calm myself down all day, trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing out here, because I haven't played."

The 15-time major champion gave some insight into his ever-changing physical condition, saying he never knows what to expect out of his damaged ankle.

"My ankle's a lot smaller than it has been," he said. "I've had so many surgeries that the ankle just keeps changing, the leg keeps changing, yes, the shoes keep changing, the socks keep changing. 

"Everything's a moving target. How much I'm on my feet, how much I'm not, how active I am, how not active, the muscles that are on, they're off. It's a moving target all the time."

While the high quality of play was a joy to behold, so was the camaraderie between the featured group, and Woods said that is something he has missed.

"The ebb and flow of needling each other, encouraging each other and telling stories," he said. "I hadn't been out here, so I've missed some of the things that have transpired on tour, which is kind of fun."

It was fun for McIlroy as well, who finished the day tied for seventh at four under, although he admitted he did not enjoy seeing Woods' drives travel past his.

"I'm going to work on the range," McIlroy said. "I don't like him hitting it by me."

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