Tiger Woods Has Shaky Back 9, Shoots 69 in 1st Round of 2020 Genesis Open

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2020

PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Tiger Woods of the United States reacts on the first green during the first round of the Genesis Invitational on February 13, 2020 in Pacific Palisades, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Tiger Woods has yet to win the Genesis Invitational, and that drought could extend for another year.

The 15-time major champion had a solid opening round Thursday at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California, yet watched Matt Kuchar open a healthy lead on the rest of the field at seven under.

Woods carded a two-under 69, which put him in a tie for 16th as headed for the clubhouse.

He couldn't have asked for a better start to the round. His drive off the first tee traveled 312 yards and stopped just short before it could roll off the fairway. He got onto the green with his second shot but still had a difficult putt to earn an eagle.

Woods' luck turned a bit on No. 2. Another great approach left him with an opportunity to move to three under.

His birdie putt missed the mark, though, so he settled for par.

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With birdies on Nos. 5 and 8, Woods made the turn to the back nine at four under.

The tournament honored Kobe Bryant on the eighth hole, using a purple-and-gold design for the tee box and a flag that resembled his No. 8 jersey for the Los Angeles Lakers. Woods had his own tribute for the NBA legend as well.

Following his hot start, he couldn't carry his momentum over from the front nine. He had back-to-back pars on Nos. 10 and 11 before a bogey on the 12th hole knocked him back to three under.

Woods hooked his drives on Nos. 13 and 15 left of the fairway, giving him an uphill battle just to save par.

The 44-year-old will undoubtedly be a little disappointed with his overall performance since he could've been a little higher up the leaderboard. According to PGATour.com, he hit seven of the 14 fairways and reached 11 greens in regulation. Those numbers will have to improve for him to mount a title challenge.

Five shots separate Woods from Kuchar in first place. That's a manageable gap through 18 holes as long as he can continue chipping away Friday and doesn't lose further ground.