Tiger Woods’s opening birdie bomb was followed by a long slog to a four-over par 76 on Sunday as the 15-time major champion wrapped up a tough week in his first tournament in five months at the Memorial.
Woods, a five-time winner of the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, made the cut on the number to keep his perfect streak of cuts made in the tournament in his 18th appearance.
The 44-year-old reigning Masters champion was encouraged by a third-round 71, but could make nothing happen in a final round that included a double-bogey at the par-five seventh and five more bogeys – including a five-foot par miss at the 18th.
His six-over total left him 18 off the lead held by Jon Rahm when Woods walked off the course. Birdies at 16 and 17 – with putts of 18 and 22 feet – were little consolation, but Woods insisted the week offered reasons for optimism.
“I got four rounds in. I was fortunate to make the weekend and made some progress ball striking-wise,” Woods said.
“I’ve got to clean up on the greens. I didn’t putt well all week. But as far as my swing, it felt good. I was able to hit good shots. Friday was a bit off physically, but overall for my first week back, it was a lot, a lot of positives. I haven’t played in a while. It was nice to get my feet wet.”
Woods hadn’t teed it up on the US PGA Tour since February, when a stiff back hindered him at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles.
Continuing back trouble prompted him to sit out the Players Championship in March – which was halted mid-tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Woods had opted to sit out the first five events of the tour’s restart in June.
Woods, who could now find himself defending his Masters title in November under the revamped global golf calendar, was cagey about when he might tee it up next.
Some pundits have suggested that could be at the World Golf Championships event in Memphis July 30-August 2, but Woods declined to confirm.
“We’ll see what happens in the near future,” Woods said. “Soon,” he promised with a smile.