TORONTO: Tiger Woods returns to work at the Memorial Tournament starting today, having quietly licked his wounds after his record streak of 142 consecutive cuts ended at the Byron Nelson championship three weeks ago.
It has been over seven years since Woods has had to respond to the disappointment most of his peers face at least once a season.
His fans and fellow golfers at the event in Dublin, Ohio, will be watching closely to see if the world number two succumbs to the almost unthinkable and misses back-to-back cuts for the first time as a professional.
While Woods has won three events already, his season has been one of highs and lows.
In his last four events, he captured his fourth US Masters green jacket and tied for 11th at the Wachovia but he also placed 53rd at the Players' Championship and then failed to make the cut at the Byron Nelson.
A three-time winner of the Memorial from 1999 to 2001, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village Golf Club should provide Woods with an ideal opportunity to get back on track.
“It’s a great golf course and always has a great field,” said Woods. “I’m here to try and get ready to win this tournament, and hopefully come out of this week positively so I’ll be in good standing going into the US Open.”
World number one Vijay Singh also returns to action at the Memorial along with defending champion Ernie Els.
Vijay, winner at Muirfield in 1997, has been in blistering form.
In his last nine events, the Fijian has won two, finished runner-up twice and taken two third places.
Els also counts the Memorial among his favourite stops on the PGA Tour and will be hoping for his first US win of the year.
“This is the start of a big three-week stretch of tournaments here in the States,” said Els. “I want to hit some form and this Jack Nicklaus golf course is a good place to do it.
“I’ve played okay over here, a couple of top 10s and so forth, but obviously I’d love to win here.”
Woods, Vijay and Els will concede the spotlight to Nicklaus at the tournament he founded and hosts,
Nicklaus has said that next month’s British Open would be his last in championship golf after making his final appearance at the US Masters in April.
But the 65-year-old, who has won a record 18 majors, refused to confirm that this Memorial was his last.
“I’m going to reserve the right to obviously be here,” said Nicklaus, who made the cut last year. “I think as a host here I may play, I may not play, but I’ll reserve that right and try to be able to play here.
“But I have no intention of playing anywhere else other than father-son events or skins games or something like that.
“Realistically, the best I can be is probably make the cut, and that would be about it.
“I enjoy being part of the game but I don’t enjoy being part of the game when I can’t compete,” he said. – Reuters