Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods bring crowd to their feet with dramatic final holes at Riviera
TIGER WOODS birdied his last three holes to open with a two-under 69 in the Genesis Invitational as Rory McIlroy chiseled out a 67 to keep world number one rival Jon Rahm in his sights at Riviera.
Seeking a win that would see him replace Scottie Scheffler as world number one, Rahm threw down the gauntlet to McIlroy and Co early in the day when he opened with a six-under 65.
Keith Mitchell and Max Homa went on to fire seven-under 64s to set the target for afternoon starters like Woods, McIlroy and PGA champion Justin Thomas.
But the marquee three-ball did not disappoint despite not firing on all cylinders.
McIlroy birdied the first and then ground out 10 straight pars before following a birdie four at the 11th with a chip-in birdie for a two at the 14th before parring his way to 17 and birdieing 18.
The four-time Major winner did not have his best stuff but his 67 left him tied for sixth, just three shots off the lead with Thomas finishing with two birdies for a 68 and joint 12th.
Despite all that, 15-time major winner Woods upstaged the younger guns in his first non-Major start since the 2020 Zozo Championship by finishing with three birdies.
He outdrove McIlroy and Thomas consistently, hit more fairways than the younger duo and produced enough moments of magic to suggest he can compete in the Masters in April.
He birdied the first, bogeyed the par-three fourth after missing the green, then stiffed a wedged at the eighth to turn in one-under par.
He would bogey the driveable 10th after getting caught up in a bunker short left of the green and drop another shot at the difficult 12th.
But seeking a record 83rd PGA Tour win, the 47-year-old ripped a 166-yard tee shot to five feet to birdie the iconic par-three 16th, then made a 24 footer for a birdie at the par-five17th after leaving himself a difficult pitch from the back of the green.
He then made an eight footer for a birdie three at the last to end his day inside the top 30 in his first tour start since The Open last year.
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