Nine of the top 10 players in the world rankings will be there: Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka (who this week swapped spots atop the rankings), Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Woods, Xander Schauffele and Justin Rose. It’s the most top-10 players at an event that awards 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner — in other words, a non-major, non-playoff, non-World Golf Championship, non-Players Championship tournament — since the 2007 Wells Fargo Championship.
Oh, and there’s Bubba Watson, who has won this tournament the past three times it has been played in an even-numbered year and is off to a strong start this season. And Phil Mickelson, who has won it twice and was last seen finishing third at Pebble Beach this past weekend. And world No. 12 Tony Finau, who has top-10 finishes in five of the past eight majors but is still stuck on one PGA Tour victory that came nearly four years ago. And Jordan Spieth, who won three majors before he turned 24 but since has been lost in the wilderness. And Hideki Matsuyama, a putter away from elite. And Patrick Reed, America’s golf sweetheart.
You get the idea.
This is the first year that the Genesis has been granted elevated status by the PGA Tour, which means a bigger purse and a bigger reward (the winner will get $1.674 million and a three-year tour exemption; winners of regular PGA Tour events get only a two-year exemption); a smaller field (around 120, down from 144 last year); and a place alongside the Memorial (Jack Nicklaus’s tournament) and the Arnold Palmer Invitational as the tour’s top non-major events.
Woods, whose foundation hosts the tournament, doesn’t have the best history at Riviera, and it’s not for a lack of trying. He made his PGA Tour debut there in 1992 but has never won the tournament in 13 tries, the most he has gone at one event without winning. His best result was a tie for second in 1999.
Carding his 83rd PGA Tour win — which would move him ahead of Sam Snead into sole possession of the No. 1 spot on the tour’s all-time list — after years of struggle on the course where he got his PGA Tour start would be quite the story.
“There’s a lot of history for me to come up here and play,” Woods said Tuesday at his pretournament news conference. “Hopefully on Sunday we’ll be having this discussion a little bit more.”