Golf: Woods to play Memorial in likely final U.S. Open tune-up

(Reuters) – Five-times champion Tiger Woods has committed to playing in the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, for what is likely to be his final tune-up ahead of next month’s U.S. Open, tournament organizers said on Wednesday.

The 14-times major champion has earned four top-12 finishes, including a share of 11th at last week’s Players Championship, in the eight events he has played since returning to the PGA Tour this year after spinal fusion surgery in April 2017.

“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,” Memorial tournament founder and host Jack Nicklaus said in a statement.

“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, whose most recent victory at Muirfield Village came in 2012, has not competed in the Columbus suburb since 2015 when he carded a career-worst 85 during the third round en route to finishing in 71st place.

Since Woods has never before competed in the Memphis-based St. Jude Classic, which will be played the week before the U.S. Open, the May 31-June 3 Memorial is expected to be his final stop ahead of the year’s second major, which will be played June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, New York.

Memorial organizers also said Woods will be paired with former National Football League quarterback and two-times Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning during the official pro-am on the eve of the first round.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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