Paired with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas here at the Genesis Open, it is yet another first couple of rounds in the company of the under-30s for Tiger Woods and the 43-year-old is taking longevity inspiration from an unlikely source. So much for Phil Mickelson being his arch nemesis.
Woods was as impressed as anyone by Mickelson’s win on Sunday at Pebble Beach, one of American golf’s most iconic venues, as he stared down England’s Paul Casey by three shots. “Phil’s making it look easy,” Woods said here at Riviera Country. “To see him winning a World Golf Championship [at Mexico last year] and at Pebble at the age of 48, it’s impressive to see because it’s not easy to do.
“He’s making more putts than I’ve ever seen him make. He’s been driving it a little better but has really changed his putting the last year and a half.”
It is one of the curiosities of Woods’s garlanded career that he has never prevailed here at the event where his father used to bring him as a boy and which now benefits his charitable foundation. In 11 appearances the best he managed was second in 1999. Among the professional events Woods has entered at least four times, it remains the only one he has not won. But with Mickelson in the field, there is added incentive.