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Tiger Woods on trying to hand Justin Thomas a tampon: ‘I’m sorry’

Justin Thomas, left, and Tiger Woods take a break on an ice chest at the 4th tee box
Justin Thomas, left, and Tiger Woods take a break on an ice chest at the fourth tee box during the first round of the Genesis Invitational on Thursday at Riviera Country Club.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
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Tiger Woods ducked into the clubhouse for a bathroom break after finishing nine holes Friday. While his sizable gallery waited for him to return to the next tee, spectators couldn’t resist attempting humor. Someone would yell out a one-liner and everyone else would either chuckle or cringe.

A day earlier Woods was caught on video trying to hand playing partner Justin Thomas a tampon after Woods outdrove him on the ninth hole. Thomas slapped it to the ground and Woods laughed and playfully put his arm around Thomas’ shoulder as they walked down the fairway.

The story line of Woods unexpectedly playing in the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club — a tournament where is he host and on a course where he’s never won — had taken a childish, even sexist, turn.

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After shooting a three-over-par 74 that put him at one over for the tournament — just good enough to make the cut — Woods issued an apology and quasi-explanation.

Tiger Woods, left, hands a tampon to Justin Thomas while walking away from the ninth tee.
Tiger Woods, left, hands a tampon to Justin Thomas while walking away from the ninth tee during the first round of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club on Thursday.
(Cliff Hawkins / Getty Images)

“Yeah, it was supposed to be all fun and games and obviously it hasn’t turned out that way,” he 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.”

Woods, 47, has a 15-year-old daughter, Sam Alexis Woods, who plays soccer. His TGR Foundation, which is partially funded by the Genesis Invitational, professes on its website to “equip young people with the tools and support they need to discover their passions, deepen their knowledge and gain real-world experiences on their path to achieve their dreams.”

Tiger Woods hits out of sand trap on the sixth green during the second round at Riviera Country Club.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
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Rory McIlroy lets out a sigh of relief after making a birdie putt on the ninth hole during the second round.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Point being, maybe Woods should hold himself to a higher standard. Maybe he should have had second thoughts about pulling a prank offensive to a significant portion of the public. He is considered the greatest golfer of all time and remains immensely popular, not only with fans but with his colleagues.

“It’s his tournament, he represents the game better than anyone else can and he’s the guy that everyone looks up to,” said Collin Morikawa, speaking generally about Woods and not specifically about the tampon incident. “We’re always listening when he’s talking.”

As for his round, Woods putted poorly early and bogeyed the last two holes to put himself in jeopardy of not making the cut. He missed four birdie putts in his first seven holes, following excellent approach shots with disaster on the greens.

Tiger Woods hits out of the rough on the 13th hole during the second round.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“I probably should have shot five or six better than this easily,” he said. “Just didn’t make the putts early and the middle part of the round when I had those opportunities. And they weren’t very hard putts, I just hit bad putts and obviously had a very bad finish, too.”

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Woods’ putter is his most famous club, a Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS nicknamed the “cherry bomb” because of distinctive red circles on the front heel and rear cavity. It’s 24 years old and he’s used it in 14 of his 15 majors victories and 66 of his 82 PGA Tour wins.

Photos of Tiger Woods at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club after his seven-month hiatus from the PGA Tour.

Feb. 19, 2023

It betrayed him Friday though, and eventually the rest of his game followed suit. It took him four shots to reach the greens on each of the last two holes.

“I could have easily got off to a very hot start and I did not, and then middle part of the round I could have turned it around a little bit and I did not,” he said.

Update: Woods will tee off at 10:12 a.m. Saturday in a group with Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa and Matthias Schwab of Austria.

Max Homa is chasing history

Max Homa hits from the 18th tee during the second round of the Genesis Invitational on Friday.
(Ryan Kang / Associated Press)
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The leader is Max Homa of Valencia with a 10 under 132 after he followed a seven under first round with a solid second day. He is on pace to equal the 38-year tournament record of 264 set by Lanny Wadkins in 1985.

Joaquin Niemann set 36-hole and 54-hole records last year at 126 and 194 respectively, and shot a 70 on Sunday to win the tournament but fell one shot short of Wadkins’ record. Niemann isn’t playing this year because he defected to LIV Golf.

The most entertaining shot Friday was by Jon Rahm, whose five-wood second shot on the 604-yard par-five No. 17 drifted to the right, ricocheted off of the grandstands, bounced back through the rough and trickled onto the green, settling less than four feet from the hole.

The eagle helped Rahm finish one shot behind Homa heading into Saturday along with Keith Mitchell and Lee Hodges. Collin Morikawa is fifth at eight under.

“I got very fortunate to get that bounce not only to go on the green, but to have basically three feet straight up the hill,” Rahm said. “That’s arguably the best bounce I’ve seen in person my whole golf career and it would be hard to beat in the future.

He laughed, delighting in a Rahm Com that undoubtedly will enjoy repeated viewings.

“For those wondering, no, did I not call bank,” he said. “I don’t think anybody calls bank in that situation.”

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