DUBLIN, Ohio — The PGA Tour returned five weeks ago with some of its strongest fields. Now it gets its biggest star.
Tiger Woods announced Thursday on Twitter he will play next week at the Memorial, a tournament he has won a record five times, as he goes after his record 83rd career victory on the PGA Tour.
“I’ve missed going out and competing with the guys and can’t wait to get back out there,” Woods said.
It will end a five-month break from competition for Woods. He last played on Feb. 16 at the Genesis Invitational, where he shot 76-77 at chilly Riviera to finish alone in last place.
Woods said he felt stiffness in the cold weather. He chose not to go to Mexico City for a World Golf Championship, then skipped three straight tournaments in Florida before golf was halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
His only competition was an exhibition match on May 24 at his home course in Florida, with Peyton Manning as his partner against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady.
The tour resumed June 11 at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and most weeks brought some level of speculation that Woods was going to play.
He had contemplated coming to Muirfield Village for the Workday Charity Open, a one-time event that replaces the canceled John Deere Classic, but ultimately waited until the second week at Memorial.
That will give him at least one start, and possibly two if he plays a World Golf Championship in Tennessee, before heading into the first major of a reconfigured year.
Woods had said in April he was ready to go for the Masters until it was postponed because of the coronavirus. The Masters is now scheduled for Nov. 12-15, with Woods as the defending champion.
The PGA Championship is Aug. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco, where Woods won a World Golf Championship in 2005. The U.S. Open at Winged Foot is scheduled for Sept. 17-20.
Woods has played only three times this season on the PGA Tour, starting with his record-tying 82nd victory at the Zozo Championship in Japan. He also played at Torrey Pines and Riviera.
He has gone from No. 6 in the world when he won in Japan to No. 14.
Aside from the majors – Woods is three away from matching the standard set by Jack Nicklaus – Woods is missing additional incentive to play, with the Olympics and the Ryder Cup postponed until 2021.
WORKDAY CHARITY OPEN: Collin Morikawa didn’t get rattled by his first missed cut as a pro or his first time playing Muirfield Village.
Morikawa finally had a forced weekend off two weeks ago after 22 consecutive cuts to start his PGA Tour career, three short of the standard set by Tiger Woods. He bounced back with a 7-under 65 for a one-shot lead over Adam Hadwin at Dublin, Ohio.
It was a quiet day of work, typical for the PGA Tour with no spectators allowed in the return from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. It was never more evident at Muirfield Village, which typically has enough fans to frame just about every hole.
Most of the good scoring came in the morning. Hadwin had five birdies over his last eight holes for a 66. Nick Taylor, a new father who chose to stay home in Canada for an extra month after the tour resumed, had an eagle at No. 11 and kept bogeys off his card for a 67. He was joined by past Muirfield Village winner Hideki Matsuyama.
EUROPEAN TOUR: The European Tour restarted after a four-month break because of the coronavirus outbreak with the first round of the Austrian Open, where former winner Joost Luiten shot a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead at Atzenbrugg, Austria.
Scottish players Marc Warren and Craig Howie were tied for second after shooting 66s.
WGC: A plan to have fans at the World Golf Championships event in Memphis has been scrapped.
Officials announced that the FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind will not have any spectators because of what they call “an abundance of caution.”
Tournament officials have been talking extensively with both the PGA Tour and local and state health officials. Executive director Darrell Smith says they had a safety plan for limited spectators but ultimately felt it was best to host without any fans. Ticket purchases will be refunded.
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Golf fans’ eyes were always going to be fixated upon Charlie Woods. Such is the inescapable reality for the only son of arguably the greatest player to ever swing a club.
The fascination reached a new level earlier this year, when a clandestine video was posted to social media showing the younger Woods hitting a ball on a driving range in front of his oh-so famous father/coach. In addition to starting a rather heated debate over the merits of publicizing a pre-teen’s swing, the video—in which Charlie flashes an effortlessly powerful, gorgeous action—whet the appetites for those eager to push the narrative that Charlie Woods will fill the impossible-to-fill shoes of Tiger Woods.
In an interview at the shoot for the second season of Tiger's “My Game” video series on Golf Digest Schools and GOLFTV, Woods spoke in detail about the progress his 11-year-old son is making on the golf course.
“I’m still winning … for now,” the 15-time major champion said. “He’s starting to get into it. He’s starting to understand how to play. He’s asking me the right questions. I’ve kept it competitive with his par, so it’s been just an absolute blast to go out there and just be with him. It reminds me so much of me and my dad [growing up].”
Woods was eventually asked whether he thinks his son can break some of his records.
“I don’t know. It depends how bad he wants it. It’s all on him. I wanted it at a very, very early age. I wanted to compete and play in this game. That’s on him—whether he wants it or not.”
For Woods’ full comments, watch the video embedded below.
In the wide spectrum of "What will Phil do next?" possibilities, Phil Mickelson making an eagle then going back to sipping on his morning coffee isn't too surprising. After all, the five-time major champ has been very vocal about his love for java as he's gotten older. Still, it made for a fun Friday highlight—and arguably one of the golf GIFs of the year.
After a birdie on the 10th hole to begin his second round at the Workday Charity Open, Mickelson went for the par-5 11th in two, begging for his shot to "be right" and it was. Moments later he rolled in the 10-footer for eagle before brother and caddie Tim handed him his coffee mug back. Check it out:
And here it is in GIF form:
The caffeine kick helped fuel the jumpstart needed by the 50-year-old after what happened Thursday when Mickelson shot 32 on his front nine before tumbling down the leader board with a 41 on the back. We'll have to wait and see if guzzling coffee helps prevent a similar fade today.