PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Tiger Woods’ lack of success—it’s not often you can say that about a guy who has won 80 times, including 14 majors, on the PGA Tour—around Riviera Country Club has been well-documented. In short, in 11 trips he has zero wins, a half-dozen top-20s and two missed cuts, including one last year.
“It is certainly a love-hate relationship,” he said Wednesday on the eve of this year’s Genesis Open. “I love playing this golf course. I always have, I enjoyed playing up here when I was young with my dad. For some reason I've only played well here one time in the tournament. It's just one of those courses that, you have to hit the golf ball well. There's no faking it around this golf course.”
Woods has, of course, made a living hitting the ball well. It happens.
Not having played particularly well at Riviera isn’t the only motivator he has this week, though.
Last week, Phil Mickelson shot a final-round 65 to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by three. The performance impressed even Woods. He said the 48-year-old continued successful play pushes him, too.
“What Phil has done has been extraordinary, to be that consistent for the length of time,” said the 43-year-old Woods. “He’s been out here since  and made every single team [Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup] since ’94. He’s won major championships. He's won events. He’s just been so consistent, and that's the hardest thing to do. Each and every one of us have enough talent to have little hot runs out here, but to sustain it for two decades like he has.
“Trust me, I recognize this. It’s not easy to pick up clubhead speed, which he has done as he’s gotten older. That’s been extraordinary. That’s what's allowed him to stay out here with some of these longer guys. He’s been able to hit the ball farther. He’s adjusted his putting. He’s made more putts than I think I’ve seen in years in the last year and a half. It’s one of the reasons why he’s won two big events.”
As for Woods, he’s looking for his second win in his last four starts dating back to last fall’s Tour Championship, which was his first victory in five years, and his first ever at Riviera. He’ll play with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas the first two rounds with the group teeing off at 12:22 p.m. local time on Thursday.