Woods will play his first two rounds (10:22 a.m. Thursday and 3:02 p.m. Friday) with McIlroy and Thomas, with whom he played the back nine on Tuesday in a practice round.
That was the year he captured the Open Championship and it's a well-known stat now that the four-time major champion hasn't won anywhere since.
As with TPC Scottsdale (three wins) and Pebble Beach (four wins), this is a trophy on which Mickelson's name appears a few times. He won here back-to-back in 2008 and 2009.
Dustin Johnson is a hard fade week in and week out, but it will be especially tough to look past him this weekend given his recent form and his first-place finish here previous year. Then again, Tiger hasn't played here since 2006.
Why the return to such impressive form? He was tied second last week. Phil Mickelson also is in the field.
To say Woods, at 42 years of age, is a new man would be an understatement.
"I think now they're starting to see me as a competitor because I'm starting to come back again".
He also acknowledged last week that Riviera is "a ideal course" for those that are striking it well. "I'll start worrying about Augusta the week after match play ends".
"If you drive it well there, the second shot is where Riviera thrives and challenges you".
When I asked Woods if it bothers him that perhaps some of the younger kids don't know who he is, he replied, "No, it doesn't bother me at all. The more tournaments I play in, the more I'll be able to get a better understanding of that". "I have a long way to go". And I think we are going to have a lot of fun. And it's easy to go on. SportsLine is projecting him to finish outside the top 50.
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"I'm not used to walking", he said. "It's just now I can beat him", Thomas said with a laugh, surely a leftover barb from their flight to Los Angeles.
Dustin Johnson is the defending champion of the event. If not the jackpot, we can still get a healthy each-way return from a punt at 28s.
According to the latest oddsmakers at YouWager, Dustin Johnson is the favorite this week, as he has 5/1 odds.
Although he's yet to crack the top five this season, Daniel Berger has been playing strong golf over his past three tournaments finishing T-11, T-14, and T-11. It's nit-picking a little and you could argue 5/1 is a bet to nothing. What some still consider the Los Angeles Open, this event is played at the Riviera Country Club and is a little over 7,300 yards of gorgeous greens in Southern Cal.
In his first PGA Tour event after recovering from his fourth back surgery, Woods tied for 23rd on a tough test at Torrey Pines.
He has liked the course since his rookie season.
The Scot is teeing it up at Riviera for the ninth year running and his performances are getting better and better. In last year's tournament, Thomas placed 39.
"I love the golf course, I love the layout, it fits my eye - and I play it very bad", he said. Hence it's one of the first tournaments pencilled in on his schedule.
Last year's victory at Riviera, he said, was the beginning of what led to two more victories in the spring at the WGC events in Mexico and Austin, TX. Future of Fantasy's table of putting performances on such surfaces since 2013/14 shows Laird in 17th place while he's eighth on the Specialists list which compares displays on Poa v other grasses.
A year ago Woods was in such pain he couldn't even sit through a pre-tournament press conference, let alone compete.
He could be interesting at 125s. I was just a person they could bounce ideas off.