May 30, 2018

Woods Returns to the Memorial Tournament

DUBLIN, OHIO – Tiger Woods is back in familiar territory this week at $8.9 million Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

The event is hosted by Jack Nicklaus, who designed and built the pristine, par-72 layout. Woods will be playing for the 16th time, his last appearance coming in 2015. He has produced five victories, earning titles in 2012, 2009, 2001, 2000 and 1999.

It marks the ninth start of the season for Woods, who tied for 11th in his last outing at The Players Championship. He has posted four top 12 finishes and now ranks 80th in the Official World Golf Ranking and No. 54 in the FedExCup point standings.

“The last few times I’ve had a chance I’ve felt very comfortable,” said Woods, who tied for second at the Vaspar Championship. “Hopefully I can shoot the low round when I need it.”

Woods has always enjoyed playing Nicklaus-designed courses.

“I just happen to play well on them,” he said.

Players are especially appreciative of the tournament host, whose 18 major victories are the most of all-time.

“This one is very special to all of us for what he has done,” said Woods.

Woods has 79 PGA Tour wins, second only to Sam Snead (82), and his 14 major crowns trail only Nicklaus.

The latter has been impressed by Woods’ comeback this season and thinks winning will come.

“I never counted him out,” Nicklaus said. “I think he’s still got a shot at breaking my record.”

Woods has underdone four back surgeries.

“The last couple years have felt like a very long time,” he said. “I have not felt very well or very good in the last few years and it seemed like, a second seemed like 24 hours. I was struggling for a while. The last couple years, that definitely felt a little more like 10, 20 years.”

Nicklaus knows it hasn’t been easy.

On Wednesday, Woods played in the pro-am with former NFL great Peyton Manning, a long-time pal. They chatted throughout the round and exchanged light-hearted digs.

Woods began the week in Southampton, N.Y., where he played practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, site of next month’s U.S. Open.

“Unfortunately, it rained the day before I got there and the golf course played really long,” said Woods. “I’m sure it probably won’t play as long as we played it – 7,500 yards, par-70 is a long golf course. And they’ve made some pretty significant changes since the last time I’ve seen it.”

Woods has competed in two previous U.S. Opens at Shinnecock, once as a amateur while attending Stanford University. He last played in 2004, tying for 17th.

Woods, who will be using new TaylorMade wedges this week, will be paired with defending champion Jason Dufner and Justin Rose, the latter claiming last week’s Fort Worth Invitational. They start Thursday at 8:26 a.m. ET on the 10th tee.

Thunderstorms are in the forecast the first two rounds with temperatures in the low to mid-80s.

Woods remains hopeful of putting himself in the mix for a 2018 Ryder Cup berth. He has already been named a vice-captain by captain Jim Furyk. Woods held similar roles at the 2016 Ryder Cup and 2017 Presidents Cup, but would like to compete for his country for an eighth time.

“Of course I want to play,” he said. “I have a lot of work to do between now and then to be part of the team.”

Eight of the 12 spots are determined on points following the PGA Championship. Woods currently ranks 33rd.

Furyk also has four at-large picks and will announce three players after the Dell Technologies Championship, which concludes Sept. 3. The final spot will be awarded after the BMW Championship the following week.

As it turns, many players are being measured for team uniforms this week at the Memorial Tournament.

“I know the players and the captains wear different outfits and I would love to screw that up,” laughed Woods.

The matches are set for Sept. 28-30 at Le Golf National near Paris.