Tiger Woods leads robust field at Memorial

Scott Halleran

Tiger Woods returns this week to the course that Jack built, a track on which last year he holed what Nicklaus called "one of the most incredible golf shots...you’ll ever see."

Tiger Woods headlines one of the strongest fields of the season this week when he’ll attempt to go back-to-back at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament.

Coming off his 78th PGA Tour win, at The Players Championship earlier this month, Woods will revisit the site of what the tourney host last year called one of the best shots he had ever witnessed.

“That was one of the most incredible golf shots I think you’ll ever see played,” Nicklaus said from the CBS booth after Woods’ flop shot from the deep rough behind the green at the par-3 16th at Muirfield Village trickled into the hole. “It wasn’t just the pitch shot; it was where he had to land it, what he had to do, and what the penalties were if he didn’t make it. Unbelievable.”

The chip-in helped Woods rebound from four shots back to notch his 73rd tour victory that, at the time, tied Nicklaus for second on the all-time list behind Sam Snead’s 82. He’ll go for his sixth W at Jack's Place -- and the third in five years -- when play begins on Thursday.

While Woods hopes to defend his Memorial title, second-ranked Rory McIlroy, Masters champ Adam Scott (No. 3), and a star-studded cast of characters will do what they can to keep No. 1 from triumphing for the fifth time in eight attempts on tour this year. Giving Tiger something to think about, just two weeks ahead of the U.S. Open, would serve the rest of the field well, though McIlroy, fresh from a missed cut at the European Tour’s premier event, the BMW PGA Championship, will have to up his game to be competitive with his high-flying Nike Golf stablemate.

In addition to eight of the top 10 players in the world making their way to Dublin, Ohio, 14-year-old prodigy Guan Tianlang will be in attendance as well. The Chinese amateur, the youngest golfer ever to make a cut in a major championship when he did so at last month’s Masters, accepted a sponsor exemption to play his fourth tour event.

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