New-look Tiger Woods striving to find some old magic at Genesis Invitational

Rory McIlroy and Séamus Power in the field for the $20m event at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles

New caddie, new golf ball and new apparel, it is very much a fresh start for Tiger Woods at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles on Thursday as he makes his first competitive appearance in professional golf this year, as host of the Genesis Invitational on the PGA Tour.

Woods ended a 27-year relationship with Nike last month, and has launched his “Sun Day Red” clothing brand, named after his traditional choice of colours for the final day of tournaments.

His new golf ball will be a Bridgestone Tour B X. And on the bag will be caddie Lance Bennett, who is currently working with Belgian golfer Adrien Dumont de Chassart.

Dumont de Chassart did not qualify for the event, or is not yet in the Major championships, which opens up the possibility of a double-job for Bennett. Joe LaCava was Woods’s previous full-time caddie but with Woods stricken by injury, he left to work full-time with Patrick Cantlay.


Despite winning 82 times on the PGA Tour, Woods has never won at Riviera. Nor has Rory McIlroy, but he has been trending in the right direction at this tournament with three top 10s in his past five attempts. McIlroy also has the extra motivation that he would surpass Scottie Scheffler as number one in the world rankings with victory this week. Scheffler is one of many components of a formidable field competing for a $20 million prize fund.

McIlroy will have his eye on Los Angeles native Max Homa and recent signature event winner Wyndham Clark for the first two days. Homa finished second to Jon Rahm last year and won in 2021, and 17 of his last 20 rounds at Riviera have been under par.

Meanwhile, Leona Maguire is in action in the Aramco Saudi Ladies International at Riyadh Golf Club.

The Cavan woman takes part in a top-quality field that includes Charley Hull, Lexi Thompson and Emily Pedersen, with a $5 million prize fund on offer, equal to the men’s PIF Saudi International.

“It’s massive,” Maguire told Irish Golfer magazine. “It’s our biggest [prize fund] outside the Majors and the CME so to play for equal prize money with the men is a big deal. And it’s the biggest event on the LET schedule so there’s a massive opportunity for the girls and I’m very excited about the weekend.”

Golf lowdown: Genesis Invitational

Purse: $20 million ($4 million).

Where: Los Angeles, California

The course: Riviera Country Club. One of the crown jewels of the PGA Tour, Riviera first held this tournament in 1929 and Ben Hogan is associated with the course, having won there three times, including the 1948 US Open. Some famous holes include the par-3 sixth hole, which has a bunker in the middle of the green, and the short par-4 10th hole, a risk-reward hole where bogeys are as easily come by as birdies. Hogan called the par-3 fourth hole, “the greatest par 3 in America”. Last year, only 16 per cent of the field hit the green, the lowest percentage for any PGA Tour hole for 15 years.

The field: As good as it gets on the tour with 19 of the top 20 players present. The notable absentee is the defending champion Jon Rahm, who has departed for LIV, but at least there is tournament host Tiger Woods to help make up for it. He tees off at 5.25pm with Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland.

Quote-Unquote: “I feel lucky that I’ve got one of them. This is an event I look forward to very much. It’s my favourite track of the year and hopefully make the most of it.” – former champion Adam Scott, who had to ask Woods for a sponsor’s exemption to get in.

Irish in the field: Rory McIlroy and Séamus Power. It is McIlroy’s second start of the season, while Power is in need of some form after his return to injury, his best finish tied 31st in five events this season. McIlroy is teeing off with Clark and Homa at 7.54pm Irish time, Power with Adam Svensson and Denny McCarthy at 4.32pm.

Betting: Scheffler 13-2, McIlroy 10-1, Hovland 14-1, Woods 100-1, Power 150-1.

On TV: Live on Sky Sports Main Event from 2.30pm, Sky Sports Golf from 3.30pm.

  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
David Gorman

David Gorman

David Gorman is a sports journalist with The Irish Times