Tiger Woods delivered his usual huge media turnout and intrigue while launching the reborn Genesis Open at Riviera. With his tournament operations folks running the show and the Woods Foundation benefitting from the tournament, Tiger seems full engaged in raising the profile of an event that has languished since the hometown hero last played in 2006.
From the accounts of those on-site, key takeaway lines revolved around his desire to get back playing after too long off, along with his admission of concern about a stacked start.
As I wrote for Golfweek.com, the common sense admission of vulnerability is actually a positive sign that will only win him more fans and sympathy should rust slow down his return to the top.
Steve DiMeglio's story notes Tiger's desire to get back at it after too long away from the game.
Ryan Lavner at GolfChannel.com noted highlights from the press conference, including this on Tiger's concern about so much golf out of the chute.
“My body is in a pretty good state where I feel like I can handle that workload,” he said Monday at media day for the Genesis Open, which his foundation now hosts, “but I’ve still got to go out there and do it.”
Bob Harig at ESPN.com noted Tiger's obvious ease in returning to a tournament we weren't sure he'd ever play again and the role he envisions for rejuvenating the LA stop.
"To come full circle and have an opportunity to run this event is really special moment in my life,'' said Woods, who will make the tournament one of three in four weeks that he is playing to start 2017.
A couple of other key moments from the press conference included the continuation, with Charles Sifford's name attached, of the annual special exemption to a minority golfer.
Tiger discussed that and his role in shaping the tournament.
Q. Tiger, question about the tournament operation, things like the Sifford exemption.
How much do you get involved in that? Would you get involved in helping pick the person who gets exempt, or in this first year do you kind of step back and see how things unfold and then give your thoughts?
TIGER WOODS: No, I'm part of all of it. I've been involved with running golf tournaments and my foundation for a very long time, since '99. So we've been doing it a very long time. So part of the operations and my staff, I'm very close with them, I trust them implicitly. But obviously I have my finger on some of the things that I want to have happen and how we can make this experience here at Riviera and with Genesis, how we can make it better for not only the players but for all the people that come out and are part of this event.
The Scotty Cameron fan club will enjoy this:
Q. Tiger, can you describe what it feels like to have the putter back in the bag that you have had so much success with over the years?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, it felt good there at the Hero in the Bahamas. I made a few putts there, made a few birdies and, yeah, you can hit the ball close but you've still got to hole the putts. I made quite a few putts that week. Over the years, I mean, Scotty has probably built me over a hundred putters trying to replicate this one. It just doesn't. For some reason this one just stands out. I think it's -- I mean, Bob Charles putted with his putter for 50 years, that Bulls Eye. Mark McNulty putted the same thing with his Bulls Eye forever, Jack with his George Low. I mean, for some reason you can find other putters, you may put it on the side or penalty box for a little bit, but for some reason it just keeps coming back.
There were many other good bits from the day and I got a one-on-one with him that I'll share more of as we get closer to the Genesis.
Meanwhile, European bookmaker BookMaker.eu is pushing some attention-getting prices that suggest a lack of bullishness (or need for attention!). Tiger's prospects, given his attitude, body language, energy and play at the Hero World Challenge, would have me jumping at a few of these...
Will Tiger Woods finish in the top 10 at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open?
How many birdies will Tiger Woods record during the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open?
OVER 6.5 (-110)
UNDER 6.5 (-120)
How many bogeys or worse will Tiger Woods record during the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open?
OVER 8.5 (-115)
UNDER 8.5 (-115)
Tiger Woods finishing position at 2017 Farmers Insurance Open
51st or worse (-120)