Genesis Invitational - Tiger Woods expectations, picks, best bets

la — Tiger Woods will tee it up on the Genesis Invitational on Thursday (three:04 p.m. ET, ESPN+) in his first official PGA Tour event in almost seven months. At a information convention Tuesday, Woods advised reporters he wouldn’t be having fun with inside the event if he did not think about he might contend and even win.

whereas all eyes will probably be on Woods, there’ll probably be no scarcity of good golf this weekend. The Official World Golf rating’s extreme three of Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm will proceed to battle for the No. 1 spot amongst an excellent area of an elevated event.

After watching adjust to rounds and the expert-am on Wednesday morning at Riviera nation membership, our golf specialists weighed in on what to anticipate this weekend:

Riviera might probably be a troublesome stroll, however it is a favourite of Tiger’s. How did he take a look at adjust to and through Wednesday’s professional-am?

Mark Schlabach: i used to be shocked Woods was having fun with in an 18-hole professional-am. i assume inside the event you are internet hosting the match, it is a should to do all the pieces that you merely’re asking all people else to do. It was chilly and windy, however he did not seem significantly stiff on the adjust to range. He was strolling and by no means using a limp all through the entrance 9 and did not appear to have an situation till the earlier few holes. i do not know if his decision to cease having fun with after an excellent shot on sixteen was attributable to ache, or that he was accomplished having fun with with not glorious golfers. He took his time strolling up and down hills on the course, however tackled the fifty two steps from the 18th inexperienced to the scoring tent very properly.

Paolo Uggetti: It was a windy and chilly forty one levels right here in Pacific Palisades when Woods teed off Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. PT. The photo voltaic was barely out, however there was nonetheless a small gallery round him (no followers have been allowed on property Wednesday) as he fired off the driving drive down the principal fairway. At first, it was troublesome to inform how comfy Woods was strolling, however as a consequence of the entrance 9 went alongside, he did not have a noticeable limp and appeared to be strolling tons elevated than the final time we noticed him play. On the again 9, however, Woods started to stroll slower and his slight weight compensation resurfaced.

As Woods detailed to the media Wednesday, hitting photographs isn’t an situation, however his proper ankle is. however, Woods did say he had particularly ready to play — and presumably stroll — this course. He was in good spirits Wednesday at the same time as a consequence of the wind picked up and hitting photographs turned a bit extra treacherous.

Tiger says he obtained here to win. Is that what we will count on?

Schlabach: Woods mentioned he wouldn’t have proven up on the Genesis to play if he did not suppose he might contend or win the match. After what we witnessed a yr in the past, i really feel making the reduce and sticking round for the weekend can be a large step forward. Woods is forty seven years previous. He performed solely 9 rounds in three principal championships final season. He was pressured to tug out of the PGA Championship after fifty 4 holes and missed the reduce on the Open at St. Andrews in July, the final time he performed in an official PGA Tour event.

Woods mentioned his surgically repaired proper leg is in elevated type than it was a yr in the past. he is nonetheless dealing with ache in his proper ankle, as properly as to plantar fasciitis in his proper foot. He acknowledged that he hasn’t walked 18 holes for 4 straight days this yr. Hitting good photographs isn’t an situation. As he has mentioned many occasions, it is nonetheless about getting from level A to level B. Will Woods’ leg, ankle and foot maintain up over 4 days if he makes the reduce? sadly, that is going to be the question each time he competes going forward.

Uggetti: At this level, it might probably be unusual and out of character if Woods mentioned he was having fun with a match simply to play it and by no means try and win. he is been repeatedly vocal regarding the very confirmed actuality that he’ll solely tee it up if he can win, however that would not imply we ought to always count on that. take away the very confirmed actuality that he is coming off principal surgical procedures and a protracted layoff, and the problem at hand stays to be that of beating the proper gamers on this planet at a PGA Tour designated event.

Making the reduce, as Schlabach mentioned, can be an monumental moral victory for anyone however him. At this level, that feels life like however not a guarantee. For Woods and actually the golf world at massive, the hope is that having fun with in tournaments like this one assist him put together for the tournaments that he actually wishes to nonetheless win — the majors.

He’ll tee it up at three:04 p.m. ET on Thursday in an glorious group of Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. what’s going to we see from them?

Schlabach: Hogan’s Alley is a shotmaker’s course, and few PGA Tour gamers are elevated with a mid-iron or wedge in his hand than Thomas, truly one of Woods’ closest pals. Thomas obtained off to a little bit of a sluggish start in 2023, however his type started to return collectively on the WM Phoenix Open, the place he carded a sixty five on Sunday and accomplished solo fourth. After lacking the reduce in again-to-again begins at Riviera nation membership, Thomas was sixth final yr. Thomas’ work throughout the inexperienced is world-class, and he’ll be troublesome to beat if his putter will get scorching.

i used to be a bit shocked that McIlroy wasn’t a suppose about Phoenix, given how properly he had performed over the previous few months. Then as quickly as extra, TPC Scottsdale has by no means been truly one of his favourite tracks; he typically skipped the event till it turned a delegated one. Mcllroy has been elevated at Riv, with three extreme-10 finishes in his previous 4 begins. His ballstriking in Phoenix wasn’t unhealthy, however he by no means appeared comfy on the inexperienced. McIlroy is a menace to win each time he tees it up these days.

Uggetti: Far be it from me to bemoan a featured group of this magnitude, however this feels barely an extreme quantity of like an Avengers state of affairs, particularly a yr after Riv turned the latest spot for all LIV rumors and these three have been staunchly professional-PGA Tour since. That being mentioned, McIlroy has been vocal prior to now about how having fun with in a bunch with Woods isn’t the proper for his sport. The gallery Thursday will probably be massive and loud, and whereas i am constructive each Thomas and McIlroy take pleasure in having fun with with Woods, it will not be simple.

It looks like McIlroy is due for a sturdy efficiency in truly one of many designated occasions. As Schlabach recognized, he has a historic previous of having fun with properly right here and has been hanging the ball at an elite diploma for the previous 10 months or so. it is arduous to gauge how Thomas will do at any given event however i will have an curiosity to see how his placing fares on Riv’s small, undulating greens. up to now this season, Thomas is 159th in strokes gained: placing and has already switched putters as quickly as.

it has been an exact battle on the very elevated of the standings. How will Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler truthful at Riviera?

Schlabach: As a lot as Scheffler gained final season, it is arduous to think about he did not win as quickly as extra after the Masters and went 10 months and by no means using a victory till ending first at Phoenix. After ending his “drought” at TPC Scottsdale, one has to shock if he is about to place collectively one other heater like final season, when he gained 4 occasions in six begins and picked up his first principal at Augusta nationwide. When Scheffler will get it rolling, he is extremely effective to decelerate. He has solely 4 begins at Riviera however did progressively elevated in every of them: missed reduce, thirtieth, twentieth and seventh final yr. He led the sector in strokes gained: tee to inexperienced and strategy final week. which might even be one other good recipe on the Genesis. Scheffler loves competing in massive occasions, and with 23 of the very best 25 gamers on this planet right here, he’ll be extremely motivated to win.

almost as good as Scheffler and McIlroy have been, i am undecided anyone has been as fixed as Rahm. The Spaniard has made 5 begins this season, collectively with again-to-again wins on the Sentry match of Champions and American categorical. Rahm did not have his best stuff at Phoenix final week however nonetheless managed to full solo third. There’s not any a component of his sport that will not firing on all cylinders proper now; he is driving the ball far, hitting greens and making putts.

Uggetti: It feels simply like the cream of the crop is starting to not simply rise this season however carry on the very best. Even when Rahm struggles, he seems to revert to his elite self virtually immediately and make a run on the leaders. in the meantime, Scheffler is the tour’s quiet fixed. He might not get paired with Woods like Thomas and McIlroy, however to hearken to him communicate about his weekly strategy, he might desire flying a bit under the radar in contrast collectively with his extra properly-recognized friends.

i might not be shocked to see each Rahm and Scheffler inside the very best 5 this week. it is a course that gadgets up properly for every (largely as a consequence of, properly, every a component of their video games seem like thriving). An meant influence of the tour’s new designated occasions seems to be permitting for the proper gamers on this planet to show themselves to be simply that. nobody is doing that elevated inside the imply time than Rahm and Scheffler.

Who’s worthwhile this week?

Schlabach: Give me JT. he is rounding into type and might want to carry out properly whereas having fun with with Woods inside the principal two rounds. He loves the course, regardless that it is the place he misplaced to good buddy Jordan Spieth inside the 2012 NCAA championship. it might additionally imply tons for Thomas to win Woods’ match, particularly since Tiger hasn’t gained at Riviera nation membership.

Uggetti: it is terribly troublesome to choose anyone aside from the trio of Rahm, McIlroy and Scheffler proper now, however in an effort to exit of the area a bit, i really feel this week gadgets up properly for a repeat winner like Max Homa. The Southern California native did not have his best stuff in Phoenix, however the means through which he is been hitting the ball as of late, it is simple to see him bouncing again in a large means at a course he is already gained at.

best bets

Collin Morikawa to win (22-1); Tourney matchup Morikawa over Spieth (-a hundred and forty)

Anita Marks: Morikawa has been a stud inside the Golden State. He has in all likelihood the best fades on tour, ranks seventh in SG-Tee-to-inexperienced, sixth in strategy and thirteenth off the tee. He additionally putts properly at Riviera nation membership.

Xander Schauffele extreme-5 finish (+350); first-spherical chief (30-1)

Marks: Schauffele ranks fifth in tee-to-inexperienced, seventh in par-4 scoring and has accomplished no worse than T-23 to T019 in 5 appearances at Riviera nation membership.

Tiger Woods, extreme-forty finish (2-1)

Marks: Woods is making his fifteenth look in Riviera this weekend however has by no means gained the event. however, he has accomplished as runner-up twice.

Tiger Woods, extreme-forty finish (2-1)

David Bearman: whereas Scheffler, Rahm and Nick Taylor obtained a quantity of the eye final week, JT snuck proper into a fourth-place finish with a sixty seven-sixty five finish. It was simply what he needed after a sluggish start to the 2023 advertising campaign. Now in good type, JT heads to play Riviera, the place he accomplished runner-up in 2019 and was sixth final yr.

Adam Scott (60-1) to win; extreme-10 finish (+450)

Bearman: every course has a “Horse for Course” and that golfer right here at Riviera is Adam Scott. He was the winner in 2005 and 2020, runner-up two further occasions and T-4 final yr as a component of seven extreme 10s in 14 appearances. The all-time money chief at this event will be properly-rested, having been off since ending the Hawaii swing with a T-21 finish at Sony.

Tiger Woods to make the reduce (+one hundred fifty)

Bearman: you simply aren’t going to get many alternatives to play Tiger to make the weekend at plus money. i do know he hasn’t performed competitively since final July, however as he says, he is not teeing it up for current … he is in it to win it. Not saying he’ll, however he has made the reduce in eleven of 12 appearances as a expert. Plus, you’d like one factor to root for, proper?


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