Woods grouped with Reed and Hoffman at Torrey Pines

Former world number one Tiger Woods returns to US PGA Tour at the Farmers Insurance Open. – AFP

It's even changed since the last time he played on the PGA Tour. I know, we've heard this one before, so it's best to take a step back and be honest for once.

Rickie Fowler (15), Xander Schauffele (36), Patrick Cantlay (9) North Course tee time: Thursday, Rd.

With the tournament's North and South brutally long courses presenting thick rough and fast greens, an underprepared Woods missed the cut for the first time at Torrey Pines past year.

This tournament began life as the San Diego Open way back in 1927 and from 1996 to 2009, it was known as the Buick Invitational. One would have to assume that ranking needs to drop drastically before he can consider challenging Jack Nicklaus' 18 major wins. "And he's right", said Woods.

This week in the States, Jon Rahm headlines at Torrey Pines after winning this event past year and winning the CareerBuilder Challenge last week.

All of which brings us to this week. "You can put all the attention on what Tiger's doing and forget about what I'm doing, it will be actually great". Much like the rest of his career, it's been a tale of two acts.

In this last decade, of course, things have changed. The first two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open are spread out on both the South and North courses before the field is cut in half and everything moves to the South for the weekend. Woods eventually underwent a fourth back procedure, this time to have his vertebrae fused.

Woods arrived back at Torrey Pines having been sidelined since the Masters by a left knee injury.

Certainly the tournament organisers are happy that they have the world spotlight upon them this week. "I met [defending champion] Jon [Rahm] this week for the first time".

The rest of his year suffered as well, with just two top-ten finishes in nine starts.

After missing all of 2016, Woods hoped a return to Torrey would be the start of something good. Known as 'The Big Easy, ' Els is the only three-time victor of the Desert Classic, having won it in 1994, 2002 and 2005.

He has won here eight times including the US Open in 2008. Woods held the lead after 27 holes and while he finished toward the bottom of the leaderboard, the way he looked and played were positive signs. Just go out there and just play.

He withdrew in 2015, and he would go on to earn just one top-ten, in the Wyndham Championship.

Woods was sidelined for much of 2017 after he suffered a spinal injury.

The correlation obviously isn't direct, but the message is still clear.

He said he has been playing six days a week at home since the start of the year.

Woods' unofficial return after a prolonged absence because of back issues occurred last month at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. I think I can say that even Tiger doesn't know - so we'll see'.

"I'm just really excited to play a course like Torrey Pines".

"He looks impressive; it was good to see", said Day.

Woods' most recent competitive play was at December's limited-field, no-cut Hero World Challenge, where he shot three rounds in the 60s but showed some signs of rustiness on and around the greens. 1, 12:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. local) off the 10th tee; South Course tee time: Friday, Rd.

"The more attention you guys have on Tiger, the better for me", said Rahm, the defending champion at Torrey Pines.



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