By Daniel Rapaport
Tiger Woods will make his return to competitive golf at next week’s Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio. Woods made the announcement on Twitter on Thursday morning:
“I’m looking forward to playing in the @MemorialGolf next week. I’ve missed going out and competing with the guys and can’t wait to get back out there.”
This will be Woods’ first start since the PGA Tour re-started after a three-plus month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 44-year-old last teed it up in an official tour event in February at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he doubles as tournament host and shot 76-77 over the weekend to finish last among players that made the cut.
Woods then opted to rest his surgically repaired back and miss a number of marquee tournaments—including, most concerningly, the Players Championship, which eventually was cancelled after one round just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to derail professional sports.
Woods has played since Riviera when he and Peyton Manning teamed up to beat Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in The Match Part II: Champions for Charity in May. Woods played rather well in the unofficial event at Medalist Golf Club and looked completely healthy, which ramped up speculation that he might return to the tour as soon as tournament play resumed at the Charles Schwab Challenge in June. But he opted to skip that tournament at Colonial Country Club, then did the same for the RBC Heritage, Travelers Championship and Workday Charity Open, which is being played at Muirfield Village this week.
Tiger is a five-time champion of the Memorial, which is hosted by Jack Nicklaus, winning three in a row from 1999-2001 and most recently winning it in 2012. It has long been one of his favourite stops on tour—he loves the layout and enjoys catching up with Nicklaus, the only man with more major championships than Woods’ 15—and he has never missed the tournament when healthy enough to play. Woods finished tied for ninth at last year’s Memorial, which was the only non-major tournament he played in between the Masters and British Open.
Next week will also mark another opportunity for Woods to win his 83rd PGA Tour event, which would put him ahead of Sam Snead for the most all-time victories. Woods won his 82nd tournament at the Zozo Championship last October and has played just two official events since—a T-9 at the Farmers Insurance Open, and that disappointing 68th-place finish at the Genesis.
Woods, currently ranked No. 14 in the world, has nine top-10 finishes and 13 top-25s in 17 career starts at Muirfield Village. It is also the site of his worst-ever round on the PGA Tour, when he shot a 13-over 85 while plagued by significant back issues in 2015.