Tiger Woods is tied for 27th through 18 holes at the 2023 Genesis Invitational. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods finished his first competitive golf round since July with three consecutive birdies, jumping to within striking distance of the leaders at the 2023 Genesis Invitational in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Woods was 1-over par through 15 holes in the first round Thursday at Riviera County Club. He then birdies Nos. 16, 17 and 18 to finish 2-under and into a 17-way tie for 27th place. He is five shots behind co-leaders Max Homa and Keith Mitchell, who were 7-under through their first 18 holes.
"The atmosphere was fantastic," Woods told the PGA Tour. "The people were very supportive. They were just cheering all of us on, which was great.
"I happened to hit some good shots, finally, and made some good putts. Even though I had a mishap on No. 10, I was able to fight back and get it going. It was a nice finish."
John Rahm (-6), Matt Kuchar (-5), Collin Morikawa (-5) and Harris English (-5) are among the Top 5 entering the second round, which will tee off at 9:40 a.m. EST Friday. The tournament will run through Sunday.
Woods last played at the British Open, where he missed the third-round cut in July in St. Andrews, Scotland. He took the long absence to address a foot injury, but is still dealing with lingering back and leg issues.
"There will come a time where I can't do this anymore, but right now I feel like I still can," Woods said.
Woods, 47, birdied the 507-yard first hole to start his run at Riviera. He made par on six of his next eight holes on the front nine. Woods carded a bogey on No. 4 and another birdie on No. 8 to carry a 1-under to the No. 10 tee box.
He struggled to start the back nine, with a bogey on No. 10 and No. 12. Woods made par on Nos. 11, 13, 14 and 15. He then approached the tee box on No. 16, a 166-yard par 3. Woods used an iron out of the tee box for a 166-yard opening shot, which bounced, rolled and stopped about five yards from the hole. He then sank his putt to get to even par.
Woods followed that putt with a 322-yard tee shot on No. 17, a 598-yard par 5. He then smacked another shot out of the fairway. That 297-yard approach hit landed about 95 feet from the hole. Woods hit his next shot nearly 78 yards, about 23 feet from the hole.
He then drained a long right-to-left putt to jump under par.
Woods smacked another 300-plus yard shot out of the tee box on No. 18. He then hit a 150-yard shot onto the green. Woods finished the round with a 7-foot putt, which dropped into the left lip of the cup.
Mitchell made eight birdies through his first 18 holes. Homa carded seven first-round birdies.
Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, was 1-under and tied for 44th through 18 at Riviera. No. 2 Rory McIlory (-4) is tied the 7th. No. 3 Jon Rahm (-6) is 3rd.
Second-round coverage will air from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday on PGA Tour Live. TV coverage will air from 4 to 8 p.m. on Golf Channel and stream at the same time on Peacock.
Third-round coverage will air from 1 to 3 p.m. on Golf Channel and from 3 to 7 p.m. on CBS. Final-round coverage will air from 1 to 3 p.m. on Golf Channel and from 3 to 6:30 p.m. on CBS.
Woods will tee off in the second round alongside McIlroy and Justin Thomas at 3:04 p.m. Friday at Riviera.