By Clara Facchetti
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods will never forget it.
He was with his father at the historic Riviera Country Club and saw Tom Watson on the eighth hole.
“Tom hit his ball to the back of the left pin, hit it left of the green,” Woods said. “I’m basically one of the only ones over there and [Watson’s caddie] Bruce [Edwards] was on the bag and I’m standing looking up at the golf ball. He comes over and says, ‘Move out of the way kid’, and pushes me out of the way. So, I’m on tour telling him this story and he says, ‘Well, you were in the way.’”
Woods, who has long established himself as one of the greatest golfers to ever play the game, was telling the story Tuesday in advance of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, a place where he has never found success. Winning a record 83rd PGA Tour title on his home course, he said, would be extremely meaningful.
“I’ve done well in San Diego, I’ve done well in Sherwood, just haven’t done well here,” Woods said.” So hopefully I can put together this week and we’ll have a great conversation on Sunday.”
The California native reflected on the history of Riviera and his ties to the course where he played his very first official tournament as a 16-year-old amateur in 1992.
Getting a record tour win on the course where it all started would be incredible for Woods, but he has often struggled at Riviera. In eleven tournaments, he has never won and failed to make the cut last year.
Woods said that in the past, his games hadn’t suited the Californian golf course.
“I have historically never really putted well here,” he said. “It suits a natural cutter of the golf ball, so I figured that’s what I’ve done pretty much my entire career. But when it comes right down to it, you’ve got to hit the ball well here because the greens are so small and they’re slopey.
“For some reason, everything kind of breaks toward six and I still haven’t quite figured that out,” Woods said.
On Thursday, Woods will get a chance to “figure it out” alongside Presidents Cup partner Justin Thomas. Woods has struggled against Thomas in the past but won their latest face-off at the Hero World Challenge in December.
Woods said he expected a very competitive first day against his good friend.
“J.T. always wants to win,” he said. “He’s highly motivated and extremely competitive and we compete in everything we do together.”
Thomas and Woods will be paired with 2010 winner Steve Stricker. The trio will begin at 11:41am on Thursday.