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Woods grouped with Reed and Hoffman at Torrey Pines

Woods grouped with Reed and Hoffman at Torrey Pines

Defending champion Rahm had not even won a Tour event when Woods teed it up at Torrey Pines past year.

This remarkable run has left Rahm, a mature-beyond-his-years 23-year-old, ranked No. 2 in the world, having surpassed three-time major victor Jordan Spieth and reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year Justin Thomas, who had a season for the ages in 2017.

Woods' most recent competitive play was at December's limited-field, no-cut Hero World Challenge, where he shot three rounds in the 60s but showed some signs of rustiness on and around the greens.

Woods will now make his 2018 debut at Torrey Pines, where he has won eight times, including the 2008 US Open - his last major championship victory.

"I don't know what to expect", Woods said Wednesday - and that applies not only to his own game but also to the young rivals like defending tournament champion Jon Rahm who have surged to the forefront as Woods recovered from spinal fusion surgery previous year.

A T33 finish a year ago included a final round 70 on a day when only 13 players went lower and with the confidence gained from a PGA TOUR win and his Australian PGA Championship victory, he will be looking to go even better this week.

"I just want to start playing on tour and getting into a rhythm of a (regular) schedule again".

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He acknowledged that Torrey Pines, playing firm and fast in the midst of a dry California winter, would make for a challenging return to tour action. But I feel like I've played with him a couple times and he seems to be swinging it very well and he seems to be healthy.

"I hoped it was going to be on Tiger the whole week and leave me a little bit alone, even though I was defending champion, but for sure this is going to carry a little bit of attention, but in the end I love Torrey Pines and I had a great week and hopefully I can carry the ball striking over and repeat".

Woods has won the PGA Tour event seven times, and that doesn't include his 2008 US Open victory in a 19-hole playoff over Rocco Mediate. Two months younger than Woods, Johnson has played his entire career in Woods' considerable shadow but still managed to win 12 times, including two majors.

"The game is coming along, I've just got to keep at it". And the year before that, he made the cut with one shot to spare, but then shot 79 the next day to miss a 54-hole cut. My best versus his best, I think it's going to be neck and neck.

"I've got to start somewhere", he said as he prepared to take the first step on a path he hopes will lead him back to the Masters. He's won at Torrey Pines eight times in his historic career, a feat nearly as impressive as his 14 major victories.

"I think in the back of his mind, he was really getting ready for this year, and physically, feels as strong as ever". The more veteran players like Sergio (Garcia) and obviously Tiger, you can even nearly put Rory (McIlroy) in there, although he's only 28, he's been around 10 years. He'll tee off at 1:40 p.m. ET for the first round.

"My expectations have tempered a little bit because I haven't played". I haven't done that in such a long time that I don't know what to expect. 'You can't like everybody, ' Garcia said afterwards, when asked about Woods. I hope it happens for somebody.

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