The crowds were out. The phones were out. Tiger Woods finally made his long-awaited return to the PGA Tour in the first round of the 2023 Genesis Invitational.
His grouping with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas was like a golf course magnet as spectators followed the trio around Riviera Country Club like a dog on a lead.
He gave them something to cheer for later in the day when Woods finished with three consecutive birdies.
He gave a cheeky smile to Thomas on the 18th green as he rolled back the years in his first non-major start since 2020.
Woods and his ‘little brother’ also seemed to enjoy themselves on the 9th hole after the 47-year-old out-drove the two-time PGA Championship winner with a 323-yard tee shot.
On their way from the tee box to the fairway, Woods was pictured handing a Tampax, a brand of tampon, to his good friend and the pair shared a laugh about it.
Thomas went one better than the 15-time major champion on the day with a round of three-under-par, while McIlroy trumped him with a card of four-under-par.
Woods returned to competition at a PGA Tour event for the first time since emotionally waving goodbye to the St Andrews crowd at the 150th Open Championship.
Woods apologised for the prank after the second round, saying:
“It was supposed to be all fun and games and obviously it hasn’t turned out that way. If I offended anybody, it was not the case, it was just friends having fun.
“As I said, if I offended anybody in any way, shape or form, I’m sorry. It was not intended to be that way.
“It was just we play pranks on one another all the time and virally I think this did not come across that way, but between us it was – it’s different.”
What did you make of the Woods and Thomas gag?
Do you think it is harmless fun, or does it reflect the attitudes that currently exist in the sport?
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