Tiger Woods will be back at the Genesis Invitational this year. He just won’t be playing in the event.
Instead, Woods will reprise his role from 2021 as non-playing tournament host. But his return to Riviera Country Club will be particularly significant given that it will mark the one-year anniversary of the car crash that resulted in a series of surgeries, a broken leg and extensive rehab.
Woods surprised the golf world with a return to semi-competitive golf at the PNC Championship in December, where he played alongside his son Charlie in the two-day, two-player scramble and they nearly won the event, finishing second behind John Daly and John Daly, Jr. Woods rode in a cart for much of the week, skipped hitting tee shots where he could and downplayed his readiness, but his appearance — and his crisp golf game — fueled speculation about his potential PGA Tour return.
“No, no, no, no,” he said when asked whether assessments of his game as Tour-ready (including from Matt Kuchar) were accurate. “I totally disagree. I’m not at that level. I can’t compete against these guys right now, no. It’s going to take a lot of work to get to where I feel like I can compete at these guys and be at a high level.”
Still, optimistic Woods supporters speculated about a potential return at the Genesis, where he serves as tournament host and his TGR Foundation is the primary charitable beneficiary. That’s not going to happen; while players technically have until Friday, Feb. 11 to commit, sources confirmed that Woods won’t be competing in the 2022 event. Still, he plans to attend in person to serve as tournament host.
We haven’t heard much from Woods since the PNC’s conclusion in December. All we’ve seen of him in an Instagram post for Popstroke, a golf-and-entertainment company in which he has a stake. And while there’s not much to read into his upcoming appearance, it’s an encouraging sign that his recovery has progressed to the point where he’s comfortable returning to the public eye. It’s quite possible we could even hear from Woods ourselves on Sunday. He’s joined CBS’s final-round coverage in previous years.
The Genesis field, which is limited to 120 players, has taken shape nicely even without its high-profile host in the mix. A bevy of big names are expected to play including seven former world No. 1s: Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jason Day and Adam Scott.
We did hear from Woods in January when he announced that Aaron Beverly would be the recipient of the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption, which is awarded annually and represents “the advancement of diversity in the game of golf.” Beverly is a 2017 graduate of Sacramento State who will be making his PGA Tour debut.