Tiger Woods 'playing to win' this week at the Genesis Invitational, his first tournament in 7 months

Tiger Woods is playing in his first competitive event since the British Open this week at Riviera Country Club.

LOS ANGELES — It’s been more than half a year since Tiger Woods last played competitive golf, something that’s been a rare sight since his car crash nearly two years ago to the day.

The goal, however, is the same as it’s always been.

“If I’m playing, I’m playing to win,” Woods said Tuesday.

Woods is playing in the Genesis Invitational this week at Riviera Country Club, marking his first official event since the British Open last July. Woods was going to be at the course this week anyway, as his foundation has hosted the PGA Tour event for years.

Woods missed the cut his last time out in what was an emotional finish at St. Andrews. That was one of just three events he played in 2022. Woods finished in 47th at the Masters last April, and then withdrew from the PGA Championship a month later after a tough third round where he was visibly in pain walking on the course in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He skipped the U.S. Open altogether.

Woods has been adamant that his days of playing a full Tour schedule are behind him since he sustained multiple injuries in his single-car crash in Southern California in 2021, which came just days after that year’s Genesis Invitational. Woods needed emergency surgery to save his life, and nearly lost his leg. Since then, he’s gone through a strenuous rehab — which he described as something “more painful than anything I have ever experienced” — and has just occasionally played golf.

While he said the plan was always to play in this event, Woods is admittedly rusty. He hasn’t walked 18 holes in four consecutive days — something that was once, and still is, a daunting task — in quite some time. The issue now isn’t so much his knee, but rather his ankle.

“The leg is better than it was last year, but it’s my ankle,” Woods said. “So being able to have it recover from day to day and meanwhile still stress it but have the recovery and also have the strength and development at the same time, it’s been an intricate little balance that we’ve had to dance. But it’s gotten so much better the last couple months.”

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is playing in his first competitive round of golf since the British Open this week at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR/Getty Images)

Tiger Woods not willing to transition to ambassador role

With Woods being the competitor he is, it makes sense that he thinks he could lift the trophy at the end of the week. With the field this week, however, that’s not going to be an easy task.

Nine of the top-10 golfers in the world are competing at Riviera, including Scottie Scheffler — who defended his title last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and retook his spot as No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

But at least outwardly, Woods thinks he can grab career win No. 83 here at Riviera. Not only would that break Sam Snead’s Tour record and make Woods the winningest tournament golfer in history, but it would come at the same course where Woods made his Tour debut in 1992. It's also a course where he's never won in 13 starts.

“I would not have put myself out here if I didn’t think I could beat these guys and win the event. That’s my mentality,” Woods said. “If I wasn’t ready to win at this level — I am very rusty, but I’ve come off a rusty situation before and I’ve done well.”

After this week, regardless of how it goes, the 47-year-old likely won’t tee it up again until the Masters in April. The end of his playing career is admittedly in sight, too.

When that day comes, whenever it may be, Woods isn’t going to stretch his playing days out just to be out on the course in a sort of ambassador role like some of the sport’s other greats have done. This week is a perfect example of that.

“There will come a point in time when my body will not allow me to [compete] anymore, and it's probably sooner rather than later,” Woods said. “But wrapping my head around that transition and being the ambassador role and just trying to be out here with the guys, no.

“That's not in my DNA. … I'm here to get that W.”