Genesis Invitational: Tiger Woods' challenge falls away in California

Eerie eagle: Tiger Woods makes unknowing tribute to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant

He bogeyed twice on the back nine, including on 18.

"Just didn't hit many good shots on the back nine", said Woods, who carded a two-under 69.

Several players sported Bryant-themed gear throughout the day, and the No. 8 hole at Riviera Country Club was transformed to honor Bryant with a Lakers-themed flag pin, too.

During his round, Woods had two moments that served as tributes to Kobe Bryant, one intentional, and one that came more or less out of the blue. The 15-time major victor faltered following a bright start in his pursuit of a maiden Genesis Invitational trophy.

On the first hole, a 491-yard par five, in Los Angeles and weeks after the death of basketball legend and friend Kobe Bryant, 24 feet and eight inches stood between Tiger Woods and an eagle. "I didn't know about the putt being that long".

"For a while we are going to remember what he meant, especially here in southern California", Woods said of Bryant. Like his winless run, that streak continued Friday as he ranked close to last in Strokes Gained Putting, losing more than two shots to the field on the greens.

Eerie eagle: Tiger Woods makes unknowing tribute to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant

He was delighted with the quality of his play on the front nine but was a little untidy coming home, dropping two shots for a two-under 69 that saw him trail leader Matt Kuchar by five.

His tee shot at 11 hit a tree, and while he managed to give himself a look at birdie on the par-five hole his 10-foot putt didn't drop. None of us really got it going early on, but then you have 17 and then the first hole in a space of a few holes so you can make some red numbers there, which I was able to do. "Like I said, very ironic that I happened to have those numbers on those holes and those exact measurements". At the 13th, his tee shot was again left, forcing him to chip out, but he got it up and down from the fairway, making a 5-footer for par.

The 15-time Major champion found just one of seven fairways and four of nine greens on the back nine and said he had spent limited time on the practice range because of his commitments as tournament host.

Kuchar, meanwhile, made birdie on two of the par 5s, made two birdie putts of 30 feet or longer and rarely was in trouble as he shot a seven-under 64 - matching his best score at Riviera.

Woods has yet to confirm his playing commitments in the build-up to the defence of his Masters title in April, although he is expected to play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill before heading to TPC Sawgrass for The Players Championship the following week.

Woods is chasing a record 83rd PGA Tour win to surpass the mark he shares with countryman Sam Snead.

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