Tiger Woods continues to play down expectations as his return from back surgery takes its next step at the Genesis Open.
The 14-time major winner makes his second PGA Tour appearance since a spinal fusion operation in a star-studded field at Riviera Country Club – the venue where he made his tour debut as an amateur in 1992.
He will play with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas in the first two rounds and while the group is sure to attract large galleries, former world number one Woods has humble aims.
“I’m just starting back,” he said at his pre-tournament press conference. “I’ve been away from the game a pretty long time. I have a lot of room for improvement and I have a long way to go.
“Eventually I’d like to win tournaments. I am trying to get through that process to get to that point.
“I’m making small, subtle changes in my posture and my swing because I’m starting to understand my body a little bit more, because this back is just different than it used to be.
“The more tournaments I play in I’ll get used to that. But I don’t want to play too much. This is all still new to me and I want to be smart about it.”
It would have been hard to imagine a prime Tiger ever having this kind of mentality but this is the reality for the former world number one.
Riviera is a venue where, unusually, Woods has never won in 10 previous outings – a record he laughed off.
“I love the golf course, I love the layout, it fits my eye – and I play it awful,” he said. “It’s just one of those weird things.”
He was self-effacing, too, when playing partner Thomas was mentioned.
The pair flew out to Los Angeles together and Woods said: “He asked me when did I play in this tournament as an amateur. I said, ‘Yeah, I was 16, 1992’. He said, ‘That was the year before I was born’.
“I’m sorry, but that put things in perspective really fast.”
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