Tiger Woods balloons to 76, says he felt 'stiff' at Riviera

LOS ANGELES -- After shooting his highest score since The Open last July, Tiger Woods said he is relieved not to be playing next week and that he felt "stiff'' this week at Riviera Country Club.

A day after the surprising decision to skip the WGC-Mexico Championship, Woods shot a 76 that included a four-putt green. He said he didn't feel he would be prepared properly for the World Golf Championship event next week where he tied for 10th a year ago.

"The idea is to peak around Augusta time, yes,'' Woods said in reference to a question about peaking for the majors and specifically the Masters. "I just felt like I wasn't going to be ready for next week, a little run down and playing at altitude [in Mexico City] isn't going to help that, so take the week off."

Woods has been vague about why he has seemingly been off this week, referencing his hosting duties at the Genesis Invitational but also noting that he's done this many times over the year.

After a first-round 69, Woods has struggled to get much going. He shot 73 on Friday. His 76 on Saturday was his worst score since a 78 in the opening round at Royal Portrush last year. It matched his third-highest score since coming back from spinal fusion surgery at the start of 2018.

"I feel stiff, but I have weeks like that, especially in the cold mornings like it was the other day," Woods said. "Don't quite move as well and that's just kind of how it's going to go.''

Woods struggled from the outset Saturday, making a bogey at the par-5 11th (his second hole) and then four-putting from less than 20 feet at the 13th. It was the 14th time in his career that Woods has had a four-putt green, but the second in consecutive tournaments.

He finished with 33 putts for the round and was 67th among 68 players in strokes gained putting. His strokes gained stat (-4.825) would be his worst putting round in the ShotLink era used by the PGA Tour to gather statistics.

"I didn't putt well today at all," Woods said. "I didn't have a feel for it, I didn't see my lines, I couldn't feel my pace and I was just off.

"I didn't have a problem focusing or feeling my swings out there, but there are times when I'm sure any of us have struggled on the greens and you feel like you're not rolling the ball in the hole, kind of jamming it in the hole. Uphill putts, I was just trying to wrap in there, take the lowest line and try to wrap them in there, blow them by 4, 5, 6 feet. That was a constant theme this entire day."

Woods now has some scheduling decisions to make. He could play the Honda Classic in two weeks, but that would likely mean skipping the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times. Or he could play Arnold Palmer and the Players Championship in consecutive weeks, take a week off and play the WGC-Dell Match Play as his last event before the Masters.

"That's the fun part of trying to figure out this whole comeback; how much do I play, when do I play, do I listen to the body or do I fight through it? There are some things I can push and some things I can't. And so I had a theory this year that I may play about the same amount. What did I play, about 12 times last year, and so that's kind of my number for the year. I won't play a lot more than that just because of the physical toll, and I want to stay out here for just a little bit longer."