Tiger Woods says ‘playing to win’ at the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational

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By BBC sport

Tiger Woods says he is “playing to win” when he competes this week in his first tournament in seven months at the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational.

The 15-time major winner played just three competitive events in 2022, the last at July’s Open Championship at St Andrews, when he missed the cut.

Woods, 47, suffered severe leg injuries in a car crash in February 2021.

“If I’m playing the event, I’m trying to beat you. I’m there to get a W,” the American said.

The Genesis Invitational, which Woods is hosting from 16-19 February at Riviera Country Club in southern California, is his first non-major PGA Tour start since the Zozo Championship in 2020.

The former world number one was limited to only nine rounds of competitive golf in 2022.

He missed the cut at The Open, withdrew from the US PGA Championship after the third round and came 47th at the Masters.

In December, he competed in the exhibition event The Match, and also at the PNC Championship alongside his son Charlie.

Woods has struggled with injuries he suffered in the car crash two years ago and has also developed plantar fasciitis – pain in the base of his foot.

“If I’m playing, I’m playing to win,” said Woods, who plays alongside fellow American Justin Thomas and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy – both good friends of his – in the first two rounds.

“Making a cut is a great thing but if I’m entering an event it is always to get a W.

“There will come a point in time when my body won’t allow me to do that and it’s probably sooner than later.

“But wrapping my hand around that transition and being in an ambassador role – just playing and just trying to be with the guys out there – it is not in my DNA.”

The Genesis Invitational sees a field of 131 players and, with 19 of the top 20 ranked players in the world set to compete, is likely to be one of the strongest on the PGA Tour this year.

American world number one Scottie Scheffler, who reclaimed the top ranking by successfully defending his Phoenix Open title on Sunday, is among the field, along with Spain’s Jon Rahm who leads the FedEx Cup standings – the PGA Tour’s season-long points competition.

Woods says his biggest problem is walking 72 holes over four days, but he is already looking further ahead to competing in the Masters at Augusta.

He acknowledges there could be tension at the annual Champions Dinner at Augusta between the players split by the “turbulent” impact of LIV Golf.

“I don’t know what that reaction’s going to be,” Woods said.

“I know that some of our friendships have certainly taken a different path, but we’ll see when all that transpires.”