Published: Sat, February 15, 2020
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Tiger Woods shoots 69 at Riviera, gives Kobe Bryant tribute

Tiger Woods shoots 69 at Riviera, gives Kobe Bryant tribute

He just couldn't quite sustain it.

Tiger Woods carded a 2-under par 69 and performed a subtle tribute to late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant during the first round of the 2020 Genesis Open.

It was a disappointing back nine after so much good over the first nine holes. Woods walked off the course at even par for the tournament, just one shot off the then-projected cut line of 1 over.

"I made some bad mistakes out there", Woods said. Brooks Koepka had a 73 and was nine shots behind.

He eagled the first hole from 24-feet, 8-inches - the two numbers Bryant wore in his Lakers career - and he flipped his ball to his caddy in Kobe fashion following a birdie on the "Mamba" eighth hole.

"It's ironic, isn't it?"

The 15-time major victor faltered following a bright start in his pursuit of a maiden Genesis Invitational trophy.

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"I just haven't been as sharp as I need to be", Woods said, adding that without the blunders at 15 and three, "I'm near the top of the board". "Two under was an awfully good score for the way I drove it".

"No matter what we do, I think for a while we're going to always remember Kobe and what he meant, and especially here in Southern California and the entire sports world. Like I said, very ironic that I happened to have those numbers on those holes and those exact measurements".

Then at No. 8, where the course was flying a purple-and-gold flag as a tribute to Bryant, Woods celebrated his birdie with a flourished flick of the wrist while passing his ball back to his caddie.

Woods scorched on the front nine, making eagle on No. 1 before hitting two birdies for a 4-under par 31 Thursday at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. Like his winless run, that streak continued Friday as he ranked close to last in Strokes Gained Putting, losing more than two shots to the field on the greens. After hitting a tree off the tee at the par-5 11th, he was in position to make a birdie when he wedged to 10 feet but couldn't get the putt to drop. Having ranked No. 1 in Strokes Gained Approach the Green in the first round - gaining nearly 3.5 strokes on the field - he was outside the top 100 in the second round, an uncomfortable rank in a 120-man event. He blasted that through the green, chipped back to 7 feet and missed putt for double bogey.

"There's a couple times today I hit good shots but was on the wrong side", McIlroy said. The American requires at least a top-seven placing to earn his crown back at the first time of asking and his 69 was far less erratic than McIlroy's opening salvo, featuring three birdies and one bogey.

It's part of the honor of being the tournament host - but an indignity as a player - that Tiger Woods is guaranteed to be present at Sunday's trophy presentation at the Genesis Invitational, and nearly as certain to leave it empty-handed.

Woods, who tied Sam Snead's record for US PGA Tour victories with his 82nd at the Zozo Championship in Japan in October, is seeking his first win in the Genesis Invitational, the tournament that began in 1926 as the Los Angeles Open.

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