Tiger Woods offers thoughts on Torrey return; reflects on Riviera's influence on career

Tiger Woods had many reasons to smile this weekend at Torrey Pines, finishing 3 under in his first full tournament on the PGA Tour since August of 2015. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Tiger Woods offers thoughts on Torrey return; reflects on Riviera's influence on career

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods offers thoughts on Torrey return; reflects on Riviera's influence on career

It was the T-23 heard around the world, as Tiger Woods returned to official PGA Tour competition for the first time in 12 months last week at the Farmers Insurance Open and posted an impressive top-25 finish.

He did it despite hitting 9/42 fairways over the final three rounds – one of which he described as “gross.” Woods also captured a T-23 despite being thrown off on one putt by an uncool spectator shout.

Certainly there was a great deal of optimism after this performance.

Woods himself concurred with that idea Thursday. In a blog post entry for GenesisOpen.com, the 42-year-old reflected on the week that was and looked forward to the Genesis Open – where he serves as tournament host.

His thoughts on what happened at Torrey Pines? He was pretty pleased.

“What a difference a year makes,” Woods said in the post. “I had fusion surgery last April and recently competed in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, my first full-field event in a year and only my second since August of 2015. I finished T-23, and all in all, it was a very positive start.

“It felt so good to be back with the guys and compete again. Words can’t describe how much I missed it.  Most importantly, I was pain-free.”

No doubt, that is good for many golf fans to hear.

But the post was also enlightening in that Woods reflected on some of his early days in golf. It was at the Genesis Open, played at Riviera Country Club, where the 14-time major champion made his first start in a PGA Tour event.

He did so in 1992 at age 16.

Woods went in on the process of trying to qualify for the tournament over the years as well as what he learned that week in 1992.

It’s some pretty interesting stuff. Here you go:

I am fired up to return to Riviera. I first attended the tournament when I was 9 or 10, my dad took me  there. We went a few more times and then I tried to qualify a couple times.

The second time I tried to qualify to play Riviera, I was 15 and we played the South Course at Los Serranos Country Club. It was a moment I will never forget. I was playing the best round of my life and was 8-under par through 17 holes, thinking I was actually going to qualify for a PGA TOUR event. The head pro came up to me and said, “I have to tell you, because I know it’s going to change how you play this last hole,” which was a par-5 with a second shot over water. “There are already two guys at 10-under and only two make it.”

I said, “What?” I had to eagle the last hole to get into a playoff and I hit my second shot in the water, made bogey and shot 65.

The next year, 1992, I received a sponsor’s exemption and didn’t play that badly, shooting 72-75. Maybe I could have made up a couple more shots per round, but I felt pretty good about it.

Then I looked at the scoreboard and I’m 17 strokes behind Davis Love III. It was eye-opening knowing that I was really not that good. I thought I could play the game, but obviously I wasn’t worth a lick compared to these guys and had a long way to go.

Needless to say, it was very motivating. At the time, I hadn’t played amateur golf yet; just junior golf. I skipped the amateur ranks to play in one event. It made me more determined than ever to work on my game and improve.

We think he ended up doing just fine in that “improvement” department.

The Genesis Open will be Woods’ next start, and it will take place from Feb. 15-18. We are already excited to see what he has in store.

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