LOS ANGELES -- For Tiger Woods, golf became a game of inches.
Woods eagled the first hole at Riviera on Thursday by sinking a putt that was laser-measured at 24 feet, 8 inches -- the two jersey numbers of fallen Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.
Later, he birdied the eighth hole, one marked with a purple-and-gold flag.
"It's ironic, isn't it?" Woods said after his two-under-par 69 in the Genesis Invitational left him five shots back of Matt Kuchar. "It's a nice way to start. I didn't know about the putt being that long ...
"No matter what we do, I think we're always going to remember Kobe Bryant and what he meant, especially here in SoCal and the entire sports world. Like I said, very ironic that I happened to have those numbers on those holes, and those exact measurements."
As for his swing, Woods wasn't so keenly calibrated. He hit six of seven fairways with his drives on the front nine, but only one of seven on the back. His scores reflected that: 31 on the front, with an eagle and two birdies, and 38 on the back, with seven pars and two bogeys.
He said he was trying to "piece together" his swing on the driving range despite a hectic schedule. He's the tournament host, so his foundation is the primary beneficiary of the event.
"I haven't had a whole lot of time to practice this week; I've been a little bit busy," he said. "First time I saw the range was (Wednesday), and that was for about 10 minutes, and that was warming up for the pro-am. I really haven't hit a lot of balls this week.
"Just that, start shaping shots on the range and said, 'Hey, just keep this thing going on the front nine.' Well, for all 18 holes. I only did it for the front nine."
That was plenty entertaining for the predictably robust gallery that followed him on a postcard day, cheering him around a course that has been unusually challenging for him.