Tiger Woods made an apology and appeared to make the cut at the Genesis Invitational on Friday, as a prank gone wrong overshadowed his return to action at his first official PGA Tour event in nearly eight months.
Back on the golf course Woods was, as always, in the spotlight at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, but not all of the attention was on his play.
The 15-time major winner found himself in another controversy when he was caught on camera handing playing partner Justin Thomas a tampon as a joke that circulated on social media and criticized as sexist.
Woods, who hosts the tournament that benefits his foundation, had appeared poised to be limited to a ceremonial role on the weekend after he bogeyed three of his last four holes for a three-over 74.
Despite the late collapse, Woods landed right on the projected cut line of one-over, which is not expected to move even though 14 players return early on Saturday to complete their rounds after play was halted due to darkness.
Woods would go into Saturday’s third round 11 back of club house leader Max Homa, who fired a three-under 68 to reach the midway point on 10-under, one clear of Spaniard Jon Rahm (68) and Americans Keith Mitchell (69) and Lee Hodges (66).
Lurking two back and in the clubhouse is 2021 British Open winner Collin Morikawa (68), with 2021 FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay three off the pace and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy (69) four adrift.
Making his first non-major PGA Tour start since October 2020, Woods will have to quickly refocus after a day of controversy and criticism over his pranking Thomas during Thursday’s opening round.
After out-driving Thomas on the ninth hole, Woods was caught on camera handing his friend a tampon. Thomas quickly threw the tampon onto the ground as the two golfers had a good laugh.
Many did not find it so funny – social media exploded, accusing the 47-year-old of being sexist, taking the prank to mean Thomas hit like a girl.
“It was supposed to be all fun and games and obviously it hasn’t turned out that way,” said Woods when asked about the incident after his second round. “If I offended anybody, it was not the case, it was just friends having fun.
“As I 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.”