Tiger Woods, one of the all-time golfing greats who is hosting this week’s Genesis Invitational, spoke to reporters on Tuesday.
The tournament, which begins tomorrow, Thursday, and ends Sunday, has nine of the top-10 golfers in the world and 19 of the top-25.
Woods acknowledged that “to have these players come and support this tournament. . .adds to our ability to help as many kids as we’ve had in the past and we’ll continue to.”
His TGR Foundation centers on teaching kids STEM skills but is focused on those students who may not have educational opportunities at their local schools or at home.
“We worked in STEM before it was a common acronym,” TGR Foundation CEO Ring Singer told Circling the News last year. At the 35,000-sq.-ft. TGR facility in Anaheim, doors are open daily for students and classroom teachers. “Our classes are about rocketry, forensics, topics that appeal to kids. This is about project-based learning. We teach the kids how to think.”
Woods told reporters, “We’ve had nearly 300 kids come through the scholarship programs and we’ve served over a million kids now, so it’s been tremendous for us to come back to the area where it all started to have this type of event.”
Woods has never won at the Riviera, but a win this week would set the all-time record for PGA Tour wins with 83. He’s currently tied with Sam Snead.
“I have historically never really putted well here,” Woods said. “I’ve played here so many rounds. It suits a natural cutter of the golf ball, so I figured that’s what I have done pretty much my entire career. But when it comes right down to it, you’ve got to hit the ball well here because the greens are so small and they’re so slopey. But for some reason everything kind of breaks toward six and I still haven’t quite figured that out.”
Woods first played in the Pacific Palisades tournament in 1992, when he was 16, shooting 72-75 and missing the cut by six.
This is the first year the event has been elevated to Invitational status, reducing the field size from 144 to 120. The purse has increased to $9.3 million (with a $1.67 million first-place check) and the winner will receive a three-year PGA Tour exemption, rather than two.
Woods also spoke about the Riviera course, noting that “we’ve lengthened 12, redone 8, and they’ve moved a few tees back. . . .But for the most part the confines are what they are here.”
He was asked which body movement caused him the most inconsistency in his swing. “Bending, twisting, turning, moving. Other than that I’m good.”
The Genesis Pro-Am at the Riviera continued to be a great place to watch professional golfers in a more relaxed atmosphere on Wednesday. The Tiger Woods foursome included former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Euisun Chung (executive vice chairman of Hyundai) and Peter Jennings (co-founder of FantasyLabs and a two-time Daily Fantasy Sports world champion).
Fans also had a great time with the three “golfers” who joined pro Keegan Bradley: Rams quarterback Jared Goff, baseball slugger Albert Pujols and Chris Pratt (the actor known for “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Parks and Rec”).
On the Par 3, Hole 14, sign states that any player who scores a hole-in-one will win a Genesis G70. Pratt, a Pacific Palisades resident married to Katherine Schwarzenegger, pointed to the hole with his club and predicted, “Hole in one. When I win that car, I’m going to drive it the whole course.”
Pratt’s shot missed the hole, but all four players landed on or near the green.
Many of the pros took time to sign autographs during their round. The mood is lighter during the Pro-Am, as players use it to refresh their knowledge of each hole and to check out the speed of the greens. When the tournament starts tomorrow, the mood
changes and it is all business.
In Thursday’s opening round of the Genesis Invitiational, Woods, Justin Thomas and Steve Stricker will tee off at the first tee at 11:41 a.m.
At 7:16 a.m. on the 10th tee, Rory McIIroy, Patrick Cantlay and Dustin Johnson will tee off, followed by Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.