Tiger Woods talks return to Genesis Open: 'It's winning time'

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Woods is aware that he will not be in contention for victory at the Genesis Open in the Riviera Country Club come Sunday (18 February) but is using the tournament to build fitness and get back to his best for the rest of the campaign.

Four of the top-eight on the Official World Ranking will tee it up in this week's Genesis Open at Riviera CC in California, as will former World Number 1 Tiger Woods.

Woods' history at Riviera dates back to 1992, where as a 16-year-old high school sophomore, he made his first PGA Tour event as an amateur.

Hoffman ranks sixth on the PGA Tour at 72 holes per eagle, which means plenty of opportunities to move up the Genesis Open leaderboard.

It's an amazingly long time for someone of such talent and this week's Genesis Open at Riviera must give him a great chance of ending the drought. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 2.30pm on Sky Sports Golf and 4pm on Sky Sports Main Event. "For me, it's a huge motivator to continue to do what I'm doing, continue to work hard in the gym, to continue to work hard on my golf game, and for me a bonus is it proves that what I'm doing and the way that I'm doing things is working". He blamed being "a little off" with his wedges, a few putts early in the round that "just burned the edges", and getting caught in between clubs for much of the day for coming up short. After his rookie season when he finished 59, he has had only two missed cuts at Riviera.

Woods opened his 2018 campaign with a 23 place finish at Torrey Pines last month, and says the new generation of players will still be intimidated seeing his name on a leaderboard.

In his nine appearances as a pro at Riviera, where Woods has not competed since 2006, he's never won the tournament, with his best finish a runner-up in 1999. Some will try to drive the razer-thin green with two deep bunkers guarding either side, while others will lay up in the fairway.

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"I've got three tournaments in a row where I'm defending the title", he noted.

"He looked to be in good form in San Diego, though he could have driven it a hair straighter", said the victor of 17 tour events, including the 2016 U.S.Open.

Tournament play is the key, Woods said. McIlroy has failed to crack the top 20 in his last five tournaments on American soil.

Europe will be well represented this week with Alex Noren, Tommy Fleetwood, Thomas Pieters and Paul Casey among those joining Rory McIlroy.

It's an ironic place for him considering Woods, with his run of dominance that lasted for almost two decades, spent so much of his career putting his peers in position to have to catch up to him.

His colleagues certainly remember that Johnson was playing the best golf of his career - with those three wins at the Genesis and the two WGC tilts (the Mexico Championship and Match Play) - before hurting his back and having to withdraw from last year's Masters. "This is all still new to me and I want to be smart about it". To feel like I can play all out again with three days off. Still, they represent two of the four top-10 players in the field this week. He ended up finishing in a tie for 8th and I'm sure he'd love to take a mulligan on that hole.

Jordan Spieth: Struggling with the putter a little at the moment, but a real threat if he sorts that out.

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