Woods is aware that he will not be in contention for victory at the Genesis Open in the Riviera Country Club come Sunday (18 February) but is using the tournament to build fitness and get back to his best for the rest of the campaign.
Tiger Woods speaks at a news conference ahead of the Genesis Open at the Riviera Country Club on February 13, 2018 in Los Angeles.
While Andover's Rob Oppenheim earned his PGA Tour card last November, he did not receive exemptions for every tournament, including this weekend's Genesis Open at the famed Rivera C.C.in Los Angeles. He missed the 54-hole cut last week at Pebble at 1 over, his third MC in 10 events this season.
Because he was played fairly well and got through his last tournament with no pain, expectations for Woods are starting to grow.
Hoffman ranks sixth on the PGA Tour at 72 holes per eagle, which means plenty of opportunities to move up the Genesis Open leaderboard. But who are the sleepers to watch at the Genesis Open? Live coverage begins on Thursday from 2.30pm on Sky Sports Golf and 4pm on Sky Sports Main Event. As for this course, Johnson is the defending champion with a -17 to par a year ago, and he's finished no worse than fourth in each of his last four appearances at the Riviera Country Club.
"Tiger hasn't played in such a long time so he'll obviously get a lot of attention", said Johnson. The bunkers are deeper, they seem bigger, the greens have got more pin locations than I remember.
He also acknowledged last week that Riviera is "a ideal course" for those that are striking it well.
SportsLine's prediction model, built by DFS pro Mike McClure, was all over Jon Rahm's victory at the CareerBuilder Challenge this season and had two players in its projected top five finish tied for second at last week's Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
"It'd be a great sign if I do play", Woods told reporters at Riviera, "And I think it'd be a smart sign if I don't play".
And when asked by this journalist if Woods relishes the chance to go head-to-head with McIlroy in a final round, Woods responded: "I'd love it, that's something we pray to have happen".
At 7,322 yards for its Par 71, Riviera features just three Par 5s, so the players will have to compile the bulk of their winning score across the eleven Par 4s.
Bubba Watson, 50/1, is a two-time champion at the event (2014 & 2016), but his form in the last couple of years has been very patchy, with his last win dating back two years ago.
McIlroy and his father Gerry played with Woods at Thanksgiving in November and the four-time Major victor from Holywood was so impressed he predicted, "This is a different Tiger".
Woods said he has spent the time between tournaments trying to "clean up" his swing while keeping his putting sharp. In three events this year, Johnson has finished in the top 10 of all three including a win and a runner-up finish. McIlroy missed the cut last week. "For some reason, I just don't play it well".
This is a value that could go overlooked - he should garner less ownership than past victor Hahn (more on him below), at any rate - even though Smith has been lights out in 2018. In last year's tournament, Thomas placed 39. Thomas has finished outside the top 10 in all three tournaments he has played in this year, but not finished worse than 22.
So, instead, I'll take the same price on a player who does love this layout and has the results to back it up - Martin Laird.