PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Tiger Woods returns this week to the Riviera Country Club, the venue of his first appearance on the PGA Tour as an amateur 27 years ago and the closest place to his childhood home. Southern California. This iconic venue has also created a surprising frustration for the winner of the 80 wins of the PGA Tour. Now known as the Genesis Open, Woods has played 12 games without a win – the highest number of tournaments he has not won, exceeding nine visits to the Northern Trust (contested on various courses) and five to the Honda. Classic.
Although he has four top-10 at the Genesis and two second places (one at a playoff defeat at the Valencia Country Club, not at Riviera), the majority of the Woods race at Riviera has coincided with unprecedented success everywhere else.
So what's wrong with Riviera?
"I love the golf course, the layout, it suits me and I play very badly," said Woods last year. "It's very simple – it's just one of those weird things." For a right-handed person, it's a fashionable golf course – a lot of holes, you've made nice, sweet cuts. I've always loved making nice, sweet cuts, and for some reason, I just did not play well. "
Here are some theories.
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Certainly, it's a bit of a litter. How could Tiger have difficulty on greens that are essentially the same as he grew up playing? Riviera's poa annua greens have the same surface area as those at the Torrey Pines South course, where he has won eight times. (The kikuyu grass in the fairways is the same on both sites.) And the greens are similar to those at Pebble Beach, where Woods also won.
But the fact is that after being removed from what was then the Nissan Open before the third round in 2006 due to illness, Woods never came back to the event until last year ( he was scheduled to play in 2017), which is due to the fact that his TGR Foundation is now leading the tournament.
Although Woods never complained about the Riviera Greens, he, like many players, was frustrated with their moguls. It's simply a dash of annua poa in winter, especially in bad weather. Woods did not return (until 2012) to Pebble Beach after 2001.
The idea was that Woods wanted to find smooth running surfaces as soon as possible. For example, in 2007, after playing Torrey Pines, he traveled to Dubai, Match Play Arizona, and the Florida Masters pre-game, quickly leaving the bumpy poa and likely taking effect. before the Augusta National. (Although it's worth noting that Woods has not won the Masters since he stopped playing at Riviera.)
Should we have high expectations for Tiger Woods this week at the Genesis Open ?!
Go up on the greens
This is a much more tangible reason for Woods' relative lack of success in the tournament: Woods has scored fewer greens at the Genesis Open than any tournament in his career.
ESPN Stats & Information examined the greens in the regulatory information for 322's debut of Circuit 347's PGA Woods circuit. Only its match-play events and tournaments at The Open prior to 2003 are not included.
For events with a minimum of five starts, Woods' 59.1% green regulation percentage is worse than the US Open (61.5%) and the Honda Classic, played at PGA National at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida (63.2). If you lose the year the tournament was held in Valencia, the numbers are even worse: 57.96% in 11 starts at Riviera.
To go further, Woods' three worst greens in the regulatory tournaments of his career came to Riviera, with only 36% in 1993, 39% in 1992 and 44% last year. In all three cases (and to be clear, the first two came when Woods was an amateur), he missed the cup. He also touched only 44% of the greens at the US Open last year, tied for third in his career.
So, how is one of the great iron players of all time lacking so many greens? He must also miss fairways, right? Well not really. Of the 24 tournaments Woods has played at least five times, Genesis ranks 12th for him in terms of driving precision – not terrible, but certainly not terrible. There are 11 places he has done worse, according to statistics, and yet, in Riviera, he has touched the least greens.
Clearly, this has an impact on its success, which means fewer opportunities for birdies and additional difficulties. And the rugged Riviera, at times, has been brutal, perhaps turning the missed fairways into a more serious handicap than he has discovered on other courses.
A stroke of luck?
Perhaps there is simply no realizable explanation. Yes, having mediocre greens in regulation statistics does not help. And it does not take much to lose track if you miss a few fairways, which Woods has sometimes done in his career, especially in wet and wet conditions that make the game difficult.
And yet, in 12 tournaments, his three missed cups came when he was amateur in 1992 and 1993 and again last year, while he had just made his second start after his back of spinal fusion surgery.
From 1997, Woods tied for twentieth place, lost in the playoff match against Billy Mayfair (in Valencia) in 1998, tied for second in 1999, tied for 18th in 2000, 13th in 2001, then to T-5. , T-7, T-13 and WD in 2006.
This means that during a sequence of nine tournaments, Woods was among the top 10 four times but never in the top 20. He also had three top-5s.
He missed the playoffs in 1999 when he bugged the last hole. He shot a 65 final in 2003. He shot a first round 64 in 2004. His best score in Riviera as a professional was the 76 he had shot in the second round last year.
So maybe the angle of his "poor" record at Riviera is exaggerated, that Woods' career is examined differently and that, according to his criteria, it seems mediocre.
Whatever your opinion, the course has clearly created some frustration for Woods over the years.
The fact that Woods' foundation now leads the tournament and causes many distractions off the course, as well as its relative lack of success, makes it a unique challenge this week.