Woods hit only one of seven fairways on the back nine and made no birdies over the closing 10 holes. After reaching the first hole in two, Woods expertly drained an eagle putt that was exactly 24 feet, 8 inches long - both numbers Bryant wore with the Lakers.
While the 15-time major victor trails leader Matt Kuchar by seven shots, he caught the eye with a subtle nod to the memory of Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash just outside Los Angeles alongside with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people last month.
Tiger Woods hit 8 of 18 greens in regulation during his second round at the Genesis Invitational, finishing at even for the tournament.
Woods did just that instantly.
"It's ironic, isn't it?" "It was a nice way to start", he said at the end of the first round.
He was delighted with the quality of his play on the front nine but was a little untidy coming home, dropping two shots for a two-under 69 that saw him trail leader Matt Kuchar by five.
"No matter what we do, I think for a while we're going to always remember Kobe and what he meant, and especially here in Southern California and the entire sports world".
Then on the eighth hole, which has a Kobe No. 8 flag in Lakers colors this week at Riviera, he paid tribute to Bryant by doing a one-handed basketball-like shot of his ball back to his caddie after making birdie. "I felt like it was just steady golf, a lot of opportunities and I was able to convert on a good number of the opportunities today".
Woods is searching for career win No. 83 on the PGA Tour, which would break his tie with Sam Snead at the top of the all-time wins list. He learned of his death from LaCava while playing in the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open on the same day as the helicopter crash.
Woods made his PGA Tour debut at Riviera as a 16-year-old amateur in 1992 but has never won at the Pacific Palisades venue.
Kuchar, who was part of Tiger Woods' triumphant Presidents' Cup team in Melbourne in December, is without a solo victory since the 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii more than a year ago.
Kuchar surged ahead on Thursday to grab the early clubhouse lead with a 7-under 64, thanks to three birdies in his first four holes.
Woods sunk the putt to start his day at two-under.