DUBLIN, Ohio — The Memorial’s Wednesday Pro-Am had something the tournament has been missing for a few years — huge galleries following Tiger Woods.
Woods, a five-time winner of the PGA event at Muirfield Village, was matched up with Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning Wednesday as he prepared for his 16th Memorial.
“It’s great to be back. I’ve always enjoyed playing Jack’s place and this year is no different,” Woods said, alluding to tournament host Jack Nicklaus.
Dealing with injuries that eventually took him away from golf, Woods’ last appearance at the Memorial didn’t go well as he posted a third-round 85 and ended the weekend in last place.
“I think I’ve hit two or three rounds in the 80s in my career and, unfortunately, that was the highest one I’ve ever had,” Woods said. “I tried and, unfortunately, on this golf course hitting it as bad as I did, it just wasn’t good enough.”
With his body in better shape and his golf game returning to form, Woods will be battling a field that includes eight of the world’s top 10 players and 12 other former Memorial champions.
And they’ll all be battling the Muirfield Village course.
“I felt last week at Wentworth they did a good job getting the golf course in good shape and then you come here and it’s like a whole other level,” said Rory McIlroy, ranked No. 6 in the World Golf Rankings. “It’s U.S. Open rough out there. You’ve got to keep it in the fairway.”
This is McIlroy’s seventh appearance at The Memorial with his best effort being a fourth-place showing in 2016.
McIlroy is playing in a grouping with No. 2-ranked Dustin Johnson and No. 7-ranked Jason Day Thursday and Friday.
Woods is matched up with defending Memorial champion Jason Dufner and No. 3-ranked golfer Justin Rose the first two days.