Tiger dazzles Saturday at Riviera, doesn’t rule out another start before the Masters

Tiger dazzles Saturday at Riviera, doesn’t rule out another start before the Masters
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LOS ANGELES – Tiger Woods did not rule out the possibility of adding a start ahead of the Masters, saying that his plans will depend on how he recovers from the week at the Genesis Invitational.

Woods fired a 4-under 67 Saturday at an increasingly firm Riviera, the best score of the 12 rounds he has recorded since returning from his latest injury setback. He will begin the final round 12 shots back of leader Jon Rahm, in a tie for 26th place.

“Hopefully tomorrow I’ll go out and play a good one,” Woods said, “and then post this event, we’ll go ahead and reassess everything and see where we are, see how I recover from a full tournament.”

Tiger Woods climbed the leaderboard with a 4-under 67 Saturday at the Genesis Invitational thanks in part to an eagle at the par-5 first hole.

The Genesis is Woods’ first competitive appearance since the Open Championship in July, when he missed the cut at St. Andrews. In all, he played only nine rounds last year.

Woods made the cut on the number at Riviera after bogeying three of his last four holes Friday. He had nearly 24 hours to recover between rounds, and he looked sharper than he had all week, tallying three birdies and an eagle against a single bogey. In the third round he ranked 18th or better in strokes gained: off the tee, approach the green and putting.

“His game was really solid,” said Matthias Schwab, who was grouped with Woods on Saturday. “I was quite impressed.”

Even with his physical limitations and the unseasonably cool weather this week, the 47-year-old Woods has shown plenty of power, posting ball-speed numbers around 180 mph – well above the Tour average. His iron play has been sharp, too, after nearly making an ace in the second round and then coming close to an albatross on the par-5 first hole, his 10th of the day, on Saturday.

“It’s the best I’ve played,” he said.

Full-field scores from The Genesis Invitational

Woods has been insistent that he’ll never again play a full schedule on Tour, with the intention to play the four majors and, perhaps, a few more events throughout the year. The Tour’s flagship event, the Players Championship, is three weeks away. He is also a seven-time winner at Bay Hill, the Tour’s next designated event, which begins March 2.

When asked about the possibility of adding an event between now and the Masters, Woods said: “I don’t know about that,” saying instead that he was focused on his recovery for Sunday’s final round because he was “a little bit on the sore side.”

“Hopefully the body will still feel good sometime later next week,” he said. “As of right now, recovery time will be fun.”

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