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The First Look: The Genesis Invitational

The best players in the world were already committed to play in The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, but on Friday we learned that golf’s biggest star is set to play, too. Woods, the tournament host, will be making his first official PGA TOUR start since last July.

The 82-time PGA TOUR winner will headline a stacked field competing for 550 FedExCup points.

FIELD NOTES: Woods last teed it up at an official PGA TOUR event at The Open Championship in July. He hasn’t played a non-major on the PGA TOUR schedule since THE ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in October 2020… All of the top 30 players in the FedExCup standings will roll into Riviera along with 23 of the top 25 in the world led by defending FedExCup champ Rory McIlroy… Golfers with California connections include 2021 Genesis winner Max Homa and last season’s runner-up Collin Morikawa… The Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption went to Marcus Byrd, a standout on the APGA Tour. This is his second PGA TOUR start (2022 Corales Puntacana Championship). He led Middle Tennessee State University to back-to-back conference championships in 2018 and 2019… The seven sponsor exemptions include Justin Suh, the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year; Ben Taylor, who has two top-five finishes this season; Davis Thompson, runner-up at The American Express; Keita Nakajima, a former Asia-Pacific Amateur champion who was the world’s No.1-ranked amateur for a record 87 weeks; Adrian Meronk, who won twice on the DP World Tour in 2022, becoming the first golfer from Poland to win on that tour; and South Korean Yeongsu Kim, who won the Genesis Championship on the KPGA in October to earn a spot in the field.

FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 550 FedExCup points.

COURSE: Riviera Country Club, par 71, 7,322 yards. The club, long ranked as one of the best in the world, features a compact design built to test all aspects of a player’s game – especially with the primary rough of club-grabbing Kikuyu. This will mark the 60th time the George C. Thomas Jr. and William P. Bell design will host The Genesis Invitational with plenty more big events to come including the 2026 U.S. Women’s Open and 2028 Olympic Golf competition.

STORYLINES: Riviera is not an easy walk and Woods has battled plantar fasciitis, which forced him to miss the unofficial Hero World Challenge in December. He played the PNC Championship with son Charlie and The Match alongside Rory McIlroy as they took on Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth last December. Woods’ last appearance at Riviera came in 2020 when he finished 68th. “It’s really awesome he’s playing a TOUR event, especially his event,” Max Homa said. … The final spot open in the field is reserved for the winner of Monday’s Collegiate Showcase at Riviera. Now in its ninth year, past winners include Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler. Last year’s winner was Wake Forest’s Michael Brennan, who shot a 5-under 66… The field was increased from 120 to 134 golfers… This is the final tournament on the West-Coast swing before the TOUR heads to Florida for The Honda Classic.

72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Lanny Watkins (1985)

18-HOLE RECORD: 61, George Archer (Round 3, 1983 at Rancho Park GC), Ted Tryba (Round 3, 1999 at Riviera CC)

LAST TIME: Joaquin Niemann became the tournament’s first wire-to-wire winner in 53 years, and set The Genesis Invitational record for lowest 36- and 54-hole scores. He beat Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young by two. Young would go on to win Rookie of the Year honors on the PGA TOUR. Morikawa shot a final-round 65, tied for the low round of the day, to zip up the leaderboard. Adam Scott, twice a winner at Riviera, and Viktor Hovland rounded out the top five, while Justin Thomas was a shot further back and alone in sixth. Defending champion Homa finished T10.

HOW TO FOLLOW:

Television: Thursday-Friday, 4 p.m.-8 p.m. ET (Golf Channel), Saturday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-7 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m. (CBS)

PGA TOUR Live:

PGA TOUR Live is available exclusively on ESPN+

Radio: Thursday-Friday, 2 p.m.–8 p.m. ET. Saturday, 2 p.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, 1 p.m.-6:30 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio

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