Woods off to strong start at Riviera

Eerie eagle: Tiger Woods makes unknowing tribute to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant

Eerie eagle: Tiger Woods makes unknowing tribute to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant

Tiger Woods began the Genesis Invitational with two flawless shots, easily reaching Riviera's benign par-5 first hole in two.

Woods eagled the first hole at Riviera on Thursday by sinking a putt that was laser-measured at 24 feet, 8 inches - the two jersey numbers of fallen Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.

On his first competitive hole in Los Angeles after the death of Lakers legend and good friend Kobe Bryant, Woods faced a putt for eagle from the two numbers Bryant wore throughout his illustrious 20-year career with the National Basketball Association glamour franchise - Nos 24 and 8.

"No matter what we do, I think for a while we're going to always remember Kobe and what he meant, and especially here in SoCal and the entire sports world", Woods said after learning of the 24-8 measurement. "I felt like it was just steady golf, a lot of opportunities and I was able to convert on a good number of the opportunities today".

Tournament host Tiger Woods, who is seeking a record 83rd PGA Tour title and a first win at Riviera, made the ideal start with an eagle from 25 feet on the first.

The American held a three-stroke lead over a group of five players, made up of Lee Kyoung-Hoon, Russell Henley, Wyndham Clark, Adam Schenk and Harold Varner. Woods made birdie there, his last one of the round.

"I thought I drove the ball pretty well, I just need to hit a few more greens". Perhaps he's learned his lesson.

Eerie eagle: Tiger Woods makes unknowing tribute to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant

McIlroy had decent looks at further birdies on six and nine, but he was generally happy with his start despite trailing early clubhouse leader Matt Kuchar by four shots just as the afternoon wave began their rounds. "Made a couple loose swings and made a couple good saves on the back nine for par, but just wasn't able to get any birdies". "First time I saw the range was [Wednesday], and that was for about 10 minutes, and that was warming up for the pro-am". There's simply too much on his plate this week, given his additional obligations of hosting the event in conjunction with his TGR Live venture. So Woods pieced together a move on the driving range this morning, but you wouldn't have known it judging from the front nine.

As Woods indicated, the back nine was a completely different story. The first concerning shot came at the fickle par-4 10th, where he pulled a driver well left and had to grind out a par.

▶No. 8 was a 304-yard drive between the fairway bunkers, and a pinpoint approach from 102 yards that left him another birdie putt of less than three feet. He missed the green to the left on No. 12 for bogey.

The good news for Woods is he won't have to wait long to flush away that uneven back nine.

That was plenty entertaining for the predictably robust gallery that followed him on a postcard day, cheering him around a course that has been unusually challenging for him.

"Considering I'm still on East Coast time, I kind of like it", Woods said of the early tee time and way-earlier wake up. Hopefully we'll have a little bit smoother greens out there on the golf course.

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