What Should we Expect from Tiger Woods at the Memorial Tournament?

By Matt Cohen | Site Editor

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The last time we saw Tiger Woods was a final round 72 at last months’ PLAYERS Championship. Tiger finished T69 (+3), but unlike much of this year, we knew when we’d get to see the 14 time major winner next.

So here we are Muirfield Village Golf Club, home of Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament, where Tiger Woods has won it five times (1999-2001, 2009, 2012), more than any other golfer in history. Tiger tees off Thursday at 8:15 a.m, along with Jason Day and Patrick Reed. It’s only the 6th PGA Tour event Woods has played this season.

So what are reasonable expectations for Tigers latest comeback?

Woods, 39, enters this week anchoring the 172nd spot in the world rankings, his lowest post as a professional since he won his first event as a rookie in 1996.

What Tiger has going for him this week though is his familiarity at Muirfield Village. Since he first played there in the U.S. Amateur in 1992, he has won the Memorial five times, most recently in 2012. So if Tiger is going to launch his latest comeback, and be relevant at the U.S. Open, Muirfield seems like the most logical place for him to do so.

One of the issues for Tiger is that he’s been playing such a light schedule. Sure there’s been injuries and time off to work on his game. But while Tiger has been sitting out, players such as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler have all been gaining serious momentum.

It’s hard to maintain any level of consistency that way. Any momentum gained in a tournament he plays, goes on hold for three weeks before we see him again. His driving, chipping and putting isn’t put up to the test in a big time tournament.

For Tiger to feel like he has any momentum heading into Chambers Bay, he absolutely must contend at the Memorial. A bad showing at an event he’s won five times will only raise further questions about his game. Keep in mind, it’s been seven weeks now since he tied for 17th at the Masters. He needs to remember what Sunday pressure feels like.

Does Tiger need to win the Memorial for all the questions to go away? Probably not. It’s all about improvements and steady progress at this point. Drive the ball straight, make some putts and put four good rounds together. The rest will take care of itself.

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