Tiger Woods will tee off alongside Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy at the Memorial Tournament this week, as the 15-time major winner returns to the PGA Tour for the first time since the novel coronavirus lockdown.
The 44-year-old reigning Masters champion is one victory shy of a PGA Tour record 83 wins and last competed in February, before being sidelined with back issues.
Woods has won the Memorial, one of the highest-profile, non-major events on the PGA Tour, a record five times.
Koepka will look to rebound after missing the cut last week at the Workday Charity Open, with McIlroy aiming to add another victory to his season after winning the WGC-HSBC Champions.
The second of back-to-back events at Dublin, Ohio’s Muirfield Village, it also features the two most recent PGA Tour winners, Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa, plus Phil Mickelson, making his 20th start at the Memorial tournament.
Meanwhile, the PGA Tour will conduct the rest of its season without fans after the circuit’s three play-off events announced they will be contested without spectators due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In three separate statements, The Northern Trust in Norton Massachusetts, BMW Championships in Olympia Fields, Illinois, and Tour Championship in Atlanta, Georgia all confirmed the events would be closed to the general public.
The decisions by the three tournaments, which determine the season’s champion, follow similar announcements from the other remaining PGA Tour events on the circuit’s revamped schedule.
“These decisions are never easy, and we would like to thank the city of Atlanta and PGA Tour headquarters for their extensive collaboration as we arrived at what was the best decision for all involved,” said Allison Fillmore, executive director of the Tour Championship.
PGA Tour Chief Tournaments and Competitions Officer Andy Pazder said in a statement along with the BMW Championship’s decision that: “Our No. 1 priority remains the health and safety of everyone in the communities where we are invited.” “We would like to thank the State of Massachusetts and PGA Tour headquarters for their guidance and support as we arrived at what was the best decision for all involved in The Northern Trust,” said tournament executive director Julie Tyson.
The PGA Tour’s playoffs are scheduled to begin Aug. 20-23 at TPC Boston for The Northern Trust, followed by the Aug. 27-30 BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club and Sept. 4-7 Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.
This week’s Memorial Tournament will mark the sixth consecutive PGA Tour event held without spectators since the circuit swung back into action in mid-June after a three-month COVID-19 hiatus.
The tournament, which begins Thursday, was originally supposed to be the first since the break to have spectators last week the PGA Tour scrapped those plans.
The U.S. Open and Masters, which not managed by the PGA Tour, have not yet announced whether fans will be present at the two majors. This year’s British Open has been cancelled and the PGA Championship will be closed to the general public