Woods to play Memorial ahead of US Open

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Former world number one Tiger Woods has committed to play in Jack Nicklaus s Memorial Tournament later this month as he ramps up his preparations for the US Open, tournament organisers confirmed Wednesday.

A statement said Woods, a five-time winner at Memorial, had added the May 31-June 3 tournament to his schedule along with newly-minted world number one Justin Thomas.

Tournament founder and host Nicklaus welcomed Woods  return to the event at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. The 14-time major champion last played the tournament in 2015.

Nicklaus said he believed Woods, who has made a comeback to golf this season after missing most of the previous two years through injury, is close to claiming a tournament victory.

“I have been so impressed with Tiger during his comeback, and as I said after last weekend, I think he is on the verge of winning for the first time in several years,” Nicklaus said.

“He s been very close, and having won five times at Muirfield Village, I wouldn t be surprised if he contended to win his sixth.”

Woods finished strongly at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach last weekend, posting a seven-under-par 65 in the third round before closing with a three-under-par 69 to finish seven shots adrift of tournament winner Webb Simpson.

Memorial takes place a fortnight before this year s US Open at Shinnecock Hills, in Southampton, New York, where Woods will be chasing a 15th major.

Thomas, meanwhile, finished one shot ahead of former world number one Dustin Johnson to claim top spot in the rankings at last weekend s Players.

“He has been playing great golf for a while now,” Nicklaus said. “It is an honor well deserved, and I expect he will be among the contenders come Sunday.”

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