PGA Tour Picks: Genesis Invitational


Tiger Woods grabs many of the headlines when he plays in a tournament.

That started several days ago when tournament host Woods announced that he will make his PGA Tour season debut in the 96th version of the Genesis Invitational, which begins Thursday at storied Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

There are only 70 players in the elite field, and the cut will be made to the top 50 and ties, plus anyone else within 10 strokes of the lead, after the second round.

“A ‘W’ would be nice,” said the ever-confident 48-year-old Woods, whose 82 victories are tied with Sam Snead for the most in PGA Tour history. “I still love competing. I love playing. I love being part of the game of golf.

“This is the game of a lifetime and I don’t want to ever stop playing … For instance like today, to be able to play with two great athletes (in the pro-am), the cross-pollination doesn’t happen with other sports. And this game, I love that and I don’t ever want to lose that.”

Woods is playing on the PGA Tour for the first time since he withdrew from the Masters last April and underwent a second surgery on his right leg, which he injured in a rollover SUV accident not that far from Riviera on February 23, 2021.

Last December, Woods played in the unofficial Hero World Challenge, which he also hosts, at Albany in The Bahamas, and then two weeks later teamed up with his 15-year-old son, Charlie, in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Fla.

“How the body feels is important, and the process of preparing for an event, and the aging process, that’s been the trick and the challenge of it all,” said Woods, who first played in the tournament at Riviera when he was 16.

“Do I feel it physically? Yeah, absolutely. Each and every day. That’s part of having surgeries and rehab, but I’m excited about this week, and excited about hosting and playing.”

Woods, who is from Cypress in Orange County, surprisingly has never won what he considers his hometown event in 13 appearances, losing in a playoff to Billy Mayfair in 1998 when the tournament was moved to Valencia Country Club because Riviera was about to host the United States Senior Open. Woods also finished solo second the next year at Riviera.

As always, tournament host Woods has drawn a strong field for the Genesis, including nine players in the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings, including top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, fourth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway, fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, sixth-ranked Wyndham Clark, seventh-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, eighth-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal, ninth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England and 10th-ranked Brian Harman.

For the third time this year, third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain is unable to defend a title because he has been suspended by the PGA Tour for joining LIV Golf.

Other former winners in the tournament that was first played in 1926 at the Los Angeles Open include Harry “Lighthorse” Cooper, who won that first year, Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Billy Casper, Jimmy Demaret, Johnny Miller, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els of South Africa, Gene Littler, Ken Venturi, Doug Ford, Charlie Sifford, George Archer, Dave Stockton, Lanny Wadkins, Tom Kite, Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Craig Stadler, Adam Scott of Australia, Steve Stricker, Bubba Watson and Mike Weir of Canada.

In another surprise, the great Jack Nicklaus like Woods, has never won the tournament.


1. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland — The second-ranked Mcllroy claimed his 38th pro victory in the Hero Desert Dubai Desert Challenge last on the DP World Tour and also tied for second in the Dubai Invitational, but he is bouncing back from a tie for 66th at Pebble Beach. He is making his eighth start at Riviera and tied for fourth in 2019 and tied for fifth the next season.

2. Scottie Scheffler, United States – Even though he has yet to win, the No. 1 player in the world has tied for fifth in The Sentry, tied for third in Phoenix, tied for six at Pebble Beach and tied for 17th in The AmEx to start this season. Scheffler, the 2022 Masters champion, tied for seventh in the Genesis Invitational in 2022, tied for 12th last year and tied for 20th three seasons ago.

3. Viktor Hovland, Norway – The fourth-ranked Hovland, who last year claimed three of his six PGA Tour victories including the Tour Championship, should be ready to roll after a tie for 22nd in The Sentry and a disappointing tie for 58th at Pebble Beach. He tied for fourth in the Genesis in 2022 after a tie for fifth  the year before, and last season he wound up in a tie for 20th.  

4. Xander Schauffele, United States – Ranked fifth in the world, Schauffele has started the season with a tie for 10th in The Sentry, a tie for third in the AmEx and a tie for ninth in the Farmer before a sub-par tie for 54th at Pebble Beach. He has finished in the top 25 on five occasions in the Genesis, including a tie for ninth in 2018 and a tie for 13th two years ago.

5. Justin Thomas, United States – The two-time PGA champion, once the No. 1 player in the world, has fought his way back up to No. 21 after a slump. Thomas has tied for third in the AmEx, tied for sixth at Pebble Beach and tied for 12th in WM Phoenix Open this season. He is playing in the Genesis for the 11th time and was second in 2019 among three top-10 results.  

6. Patrick Cantlay, United States – The seventh-ranked Cantlay has been up-and-down to start the new season, tying for 12 in The Senty and tying for 11th at Pebble Beach, but he finished outside the top 50 in the AmEx and the Farmers. Cantlay is making his ninth start in the Genesis and has five results in the top 20, including solo third last season and a tie for fourth in 2018.

7. Ludvig Aberg, Sweden After winning three times in Europe, Aberg claimed his first PGA Tour victory last season by in four strokes in the RSM Classic. This season, he has tied for ninth in the Farmers and finished second in the rain-shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with three rounds of 68 or better. This week, Aberg will be making his debut in the Genesis Invitational.   

8. Max Homa, United States – The eighth-ranked Homa,  is playing virtually in his backyard this week, having grown up just to the North in Valencia. He claimed one of his six PGA Tour tiles in the 2021 Genesis, also finished second last year and tied for fifth in 2020. Homa has tied for 14th in the Senty and tied for 13th in the Famers Insurance Open to start the new season.    

9. Collin Morikawa, United States – The two-time major champion is bouncing back from a bit of a slump and has tied for fifth in The Sentry and tied for 14th in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to climb back to No. 14 in the World Golf Rankings. Morikawa is playing in the Genesis Invitational for the firth time and tied for second in 2022 before tying for sixth last season.

10. Matt Fitzpatrick, England – The ninth-ranked Fitzpatrick, who captured the 2022 U.S. Open at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., has started the 2024 PGA Tour season with a tie for 14th in The Sentry and a tie for 15th in the WM Phoenix Open. In his only appearance in the Genesis Open, Fitzpatrick shot 73-71—144 and missed the cut by one stroke last season.  

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Wyndham Clark, United States; Adam Scott, Australia; Sam Burns, United States; Justin Spieth, United States; Tommy Fleetwood, England; Sahith Theegala, United States; Tom Kim, South Korea; Jason Day, Australia: Tony Finau, United States; Cameron Young, United States.

For first-round tee times and results once the tournament begins, visit:

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