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Woods to play with McIlroy, Thomas in Riviera return

© Getty/AFP/File | Tiger Woods plays a shot from a bunker on the 15th hole during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South on January 28, 2018 in San Diego, California

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - 

Tiger Woods continues his comeback this week at Riviera Country Club, where he'll be paired with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas in the first two rounds of the Genesis Open.

Three weeks after finishing tied for 23rd at Torrey Pines, where he made his first US PGA Tour start in a year, Woods returns to a Riviera course where he has plenty of history but relatively little success.

Woods was a reedy 16-year-old when he made his first PGA Tour start at Riviera, playing on a sponsor's exemption and missing the cut.

He went on to pile up 79 US tour titles and 14 major championships, but in 10 appearances at Riviera his best finish was second place in 1998, which he followed with a tie for second in 1999.

Of the professional events Woods has entered at least four times, it is the only one he has not won, and he last played the tournament in 2006.

Woods will tee off with four-time major-winner Mcilroy and reigning USPGA Champion Thomas on Riviera's 10th tee at 7:22 a.m. (15:22 GMT) on Thursday.

While Woods was recovering from spinal fusion surgery last April, and McIlroy battled through a season an injury plagued 2017, Thomas counted his first major title among his five victories last season and has already notched one win in the 2017-18 campaign, in the CJ Cup in South Korea.

Woods said he thought 20-something players like Thomas are starting to see him as a competitor thanks to his two solid outings in the unofficial Hero World Challenge and at Torrey Pines.

Woods sounded confident that his game would soon having contending with the emerging stars, but he admitted one conversation with Thomas this week brought him up short.

"He asked me when did I play in this tournament as an amateur," Woods said. "i said, yeah, I was 16, 1992.

"He said that was the year before I was born. That really put things in perspective really fast."

© 2018 AFP