Tiger Woods' return to Riviera will look a lot like his surroundings last season. The 14-time major winner will be hoping for a different outcome.
On Monday the Genesis Open announced that Woods, whose foundation serves as host for the Los Angeles event, will play with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas in the opening rounds this week.
If that threesome sounds familiar, it should. The trio was grouped together at the 2018 Genesis Open. It was not particularly prosperous for Woods, who missed the cut with a 72-76 in the fledging stages of his successful comeback campaign. The same could be said for Thomas and McIlroy. Though they made the weekend, both were weathered by the rowdy crowds that engulfed the superstars.
"I swear, playing in front of all that, he (Tiger) gives up half a shot a day on the field," McIlroy said. "Like, it's two shots a tournament he has to give to the field because of all that that goes on around. So, whether that calms down the more he plays and it doesn't become such a novelty that he's back out playing again, because it's tiring. I need a couple Advil just to…I've got a headache after all that."
Added Thomas: “It was pretty wild this first couple days. It was all right for a little bit today, but there at the end it got a little out of hand. I guess it’s a part of it now, unfortunately. I wish it wasn’t. I wish people didn’t think it was so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots and play.”
The three, which boast seven Wanamaker Trophies between them, were also paired together at last year's PGA Championship, where Woods fell two strokes shy of champ Brooks Koepka. Thomas finished T-6, with McIlroy coming in T-50.
Woods has never won the L.A. Open, although he does boast two runner-ups in 12 appearances. Thomas' T-9 last year was his best in four Riviera outings, and McIlroy has two T-20s in his only two starts.
Other featured groups this week include Pebble Beach winner Phil Mickelson with Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau joining Matt Kuchar and Jon Rahm, and Cameron Champ and Dustin Johnson playing with three-time Genesis Open winner Bubba Watson.