Tiger Woods is officially back. The 15-time major champion announced on Twitter that he will play in this week’s Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. The event marks Woods’ first PGA Tour start since the Genesis Invitational in February and his first televised appearance since The Match II in mid-May.
The Memorial always seemed like a likely destination for Woods’ return following the PGA Tour restart in early June. Tiger has won the event hosted by Jack Nicklaus five times and played at Muirfield each of the past two seasons.
As for his performance, the state of Woods’ golf game is anyone’s guess. In February, he finished dead-last at the Genesis two weeks before withdrawing from the Players Championship (another frequent stop on the Tiger rota) due to a back issue.
At the time, Woods and his agent, Mark Steinberg, insisted it was nothing serious.
“Back just not ready,” Steinberg said. “Not concerning long term, just not ready.”
We take an initial look at the field along with the opening odds.
For the second time in five events since the PGA’s return, sports bettors were treated to playoff action. Collin Morikawa outlasted Justin Thomas in three extra holes to emerge victorious in the Workday Charity Open, after rallying back in the final round for his second career PGA win.
Thomas, who entered as the 11/1 favorite to win the event, actually held a three-shot lead with only three holes to play after an incredible eagle on hole No. 15. Thomas, who has now earned seven top-10 finishes this season, struggled down the stretch when he bogeyed two of his final three holes, giving Morikawa the chance to take full advantage. The number five player in the world had the chance to seal the deal on the final hole but his birdie putt went just right of the cup to set up the playoff showdown with Morikawa.
The emerging 23-year-old entered Sunday two strokes behind the 12-time champion and showed poise beyond his years on Sunday. The meltdown by Thomas was actually shocking for the oddsmakers as well who were offering the PGA star as a -1500 favorite in live wagering after he built a three-stroke lead late in the round. Fate appeared to be on Morikawa’s side after his heart-breaking loss to Daniel Berger in the other playoff event since the PGA’s return at the Colonial.
Morikawa continued his solid play in the PGA’s return since the pandemic shutdown, shooting a 65, 66, 72, and 66 en route to the come-from-behind victory.
— #theMemorial (@MemorialGolf) July 12, 2020
With five events in the books since the COVID-19 shutdown, the PGA will remain in Dublin, Ohio for the Memorial Tournament. When the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of the sports world, the PGA came up with the decision to scrap the John Deere and instead host back-to-back tournaments at Muirfield Village Golf in consecutive weeks.
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) July 12, 2020
The PGA, which was planning to make the Memorial the first tournament of the adjusted schedule to have fans in stands, amended those intentions they announced last week. However, over the weekend, Golf Digest reported that the PGA Tour expects to have no fans allowed for any events for the remainder of the season due to the coronavirus spike across the country:
“According to various sources, on Monday the Tour, in collaboration with individual tournaments, will extend that plan to play without fans at the season’s remaining nine events, including the three FedExCup playoff stops.”
“With everything going on and the health and safety concerns and everything that the Tour has done up to this point, I’ve got to stand with them as far as saying it’s the right decision, and I think we’re seeing that there’s been some more spikes and nothing has necessarily calmed down,” Rickie Fowler told Golf Digest on Saturday at Muirfield Village.
Bryson DeChambeau, who won the Memorial back in 2018, will make his return after sitting out the Workday Open following his win in the Rocket Mortgage Classic two weeks back. Patrick Cantlay, who won last year’s Memorial Tournament, will be among a strong contingent of players ranked in the 2020 FedEx Cup standings teeing off.
Memorial Tournament Dates & Venue
Thursday, July 16-19. Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio
Memorial Tournament Betting Odds
Buckle up! All five top players in the World Golf Rankings: Rory McIIroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson will all be in action this week for the Memorial, headlining an absolutely loaded field. World No.1 McIlroy leads a cast of nine of the top 10 in the world, returning to the links for the first time since his T11 finish at the Travelers Championship back on June 28.
And the field is now set for the 45th #theMemorial, representing…
•The top-10 ranked player in @PGATOUR FedExCup points
•The top-5 ranked players in the world
•58 major championship wins
•16 past Memorial winners
— #theMemorial (@MemorialGolf) July 10, 2020
Bryson DeChambeau (10/1) who is easily the hottest golfer on Tour sits atop the FanDuel Sportsbook odds board.
Following DeChambeau closely are Justin Thomas (12/1), Rory McIIroy (14/1), Patrick Cantlay (15/1), Dustin Johnson (17/1), Collin Morikawa (22/1) and John Rahm (22/1).
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.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) July 9, 2020
It should also be noted that Tiger Woods, ranked No.14 in the World Standings, will make his long-awaited return to the links this week after sitting out the first five events since the Tour’s return and is listed at odds of 25/1.
It didn’t take long for top players like Justin Thomas to joke about Tiger being scared to come out and play against his fellow pros:
“I think he was starting to get a little sassy. I was telling him he’s scared to come out and play against all of us when he’s sitting at home, just trying to give him a hard time.”
It’s going to be a great week of PGA action highlighted by Tiger’s return so be sure to check back here at Sports Illustrated later this week with the SI Gambling team’s predictions, best bets, values, longshots, and daily fantasy plays for the Memorial Tournament as well as where the sharps are investing their money.
By Frankie Taddeo
This article originally appeared on SI.com.