Tiger Woods will return to competition on Thursday for the first time since July in another test for a body that has repeatedly been rebuilt but is, at least in Woods’s judgment, still hard-wired to contend.
Woods, 47, will enter the Genesis Invitational, at the Riviera Country Club west of downtown Los Angeles, not having played a traditional golf event since the British Open last summer at St. Andrews in Scotland, where he missed the cut. Earlier in 2022, he withdrew from the P.G.A. Championship after three rounds and finished 47th at the Masters Tournament.
But Woods, who is expected to play alongside Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas on Thursday and Friday, insists that he is prepared for the Genesis, which he hosts but has never won, nearly two years after the Los Angeles-area car wreck that nearly cost him a leg. More recently, he has confronted a bout of plantar fasciitis, but he has suggested that the car crash’s consequences still loom far larger.
“It’s more my ankle, whether I can recover from day to day,” Woods said on Tuesday. “The leg is better than it was last year, but it’s my ankle.”
He would like to win the Genesis, of course, where he made his PGA Tour debut in 1992, when he was a 16-year-old amateur. (It was then known as the Los Angeles Open.) Much of this week’s appearance, though, seems to be about fine-tuning his plan to prepare for the Masters, a major tournament that will begin on April 6 at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
“I’m not going to be playing a full schedule so I’ve got to be able to pick and choose my events and how many events I’m going to play,” Woods said. “I alluded to last year it’s going to be probably the majors and maybe a couple more. Would I like to play more? Yes. Will it allow me to? I don’t know. I have to be realistic about that.”
The Genesis field is a sturdy one, in part because it is one of the PGA Tour’s new “designated events,” leaving many of the tour’s top players unable to skip it.
Besides McIlroy and Thomas, participants will include Scottie Scheffler, who reclaimed the world No. 1 ranking from McIlroy over the weekend after his victory at the Phoenix Open; and Jon Rahm, a former world No. 1 who has already won two tournaments this year. Max Homa, who won the Genesis in 2021, will be seeking his third victory since September.
But last year’s Genesis victor, Joaquin Niemann, will be absent: He has since defected to LIV Golf, the circuit financed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
How to Watch the Genesis Invitational
The first two rounds will be broadcast on Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. Woods is scheduled to tee off at 3:04 p.m. on Thursday and 10:24 a.m. on Friday.
For the final two rounds, on Saturday and Sunday, the Golf Channel will broadcast from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and then CBS will have coverage from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and then 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
ESPN+ will stream coverage of all four rounds.
Tee times for top groups on Thursday
All times are Eastern.
10:24 a.m. — Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Viktor Hovland (No. 10)
10:35 a.m. — Tony Finau, Billy Horschel, Adam Scott (No. 10)
10:46 a.m. — Max Homa, Tom Kim, Xander Schauffele (No. 10)
10:57 a.m. — Will Zalatoris, Cameron Champ, J.B. Holmes (No. 10)
3:04 p.m. — Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods (No. 1)
3:15 p.m. — Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa (No. 1)
3:26 p.m. — Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Shane Lowry (No. 1)
3:37 p.m. — Sam Burns, K.H. Lee, Cameron Young (No. 1)
Tee times for top groups on Friday
10:24 a.m. — Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods (No. 10)
10:35 a.m. — Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa (No. 10)
10:46 a.m. — Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Shane Lowry (No. 10)
10:57 a.m. — Sam Burns, K.H. Lee, Cameron Young (No. 10)
3:04 p.m. — Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Viktor Hovland (No. 1)
3:15 p.m. — Tony Finau, Billy Horschel, Adam Scott (No. 1)
3:26 p.m. — Max Homa, Tom Kim, Xander Schauffele (No. 1)
3:37 p.m. — Will Zalatoris, Cameron Champ, J.B. Holmes (No. 1)