Genesis Open: Tiger Woods enjoying growing bond with Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods played together in last year's tournament at Riviera

Fourteen-time major winner Tiger Woods has praised Genesis Open playing partner Rory McIlroy as the American aims for a first win at the tournament.

The former Los Angeles Open, which has had several different names, is the only one Woods has played at 10 or more times without winning.

Woods tees off with world number nine McIlroy and Justin Thomas on Thursday.

"He's a great kid, with unbelievable parents, and we have got close over the years," said Woods.

"I've always enjoyed playing with Rory - I've always enjoyed watching him play, how he has developed, and the amount of tournaments he has won, yet he's still learning and developing.

"There's a lot of wins ahead of him but I've enjoyed being a part of watching him mature on the Tour and getting to know him a lot closer."

McIlroy arrives at Riviera on the back of top-five finishes in his two tournaments in 2019, a year in which he is focusing firmly on the PGA Tour as he tries to end a four-year winless streak in major championships.

Can Woods end Genesis Open losing streak?

Woods will hope 13 proves to be his lucky number as he seeks to fill in one of the few gaps on his incredible golfing CV.

Woods made his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old schoolboy in the 1992 Los Angeles Open - but like his idol Jack Nicklaus has never tasted victory at the Riviera Country Club.

The 43-year-old's best results in 12 starts were back-to-back runners-up finishes in 1998 and 1999.

Woods missed the cut at Riviera last year after rounds of 72 and 76, but that was still early on in his comeback following spinal fusion surgery, and the former world number one went on to win his 80th PGA Tour title in the Tour Championship later in the season.

It is the second year running he has been paired with Northern Ireland's McIlroy and fellow American Thomas for the first two rounds.

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