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."