Tiger Woods has been a brand ambassador for Rolex for many years

Tiger in the hunt after return to competition

Tiger Woods finished his opening round at the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational with three successive birdies as he returned to competitive golf with a two-under-par 69 in front of rapturous crowds at the Los Angeles venue. 

Woods has not played a tour-level event since the Open Championship in July, where he failed to make the cut. But the 47-year-old is just five shots behind joint leaders Keith Mitchell and Max Homa at the Riviera Country Club.

Woods, who badly injured his right leg and foot in a car accident two days after this tournament in 2021, said he retained the self-belief to win big events. “I was able to fight back and get it going, it was a nice finish,” he said. “That’s the only reason why I tee it up. There will come a point in time when I can’t do this anymore, but right now I feel like I still can, given the right golf course. There’s nothing like game time, the feeling of the butterflies and trying to calm all that stuff down. With the adrenaline, the ball goes further, so I had to dial all that back in.”

Rory McIlroy, bidding to make a swift return to world number one, finished his round three off the lead. In a bogey-free 67, McIlroy birdied the first and last, but could only pick up further shots at 11 and 14.

Jon Rahm finished his opening round in third place, one shot off the lead, following 18 holes that featured eight birdies and two bogeys, while world no/1 Scottie Scheffler opened up with a 70.

At the head of the field, Homa, winner of the event in 2021, picked up shots on four successive holes from the seventh, though was only level par for the final five. Mitchell came home in 31, including birdies on the final two holes. American trio Harris English, Matt Kuchar and Collin Morikawa are joint fourth, two shots behind the leaders. A handful of players are yet complete their first rounds after darkness ended play early on Thursday.

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