Tiger Woods admitted to feeling "nervousness and anxiousness" on his return at the Memorial Tournament on Thursday.

Playing for the first time since February, Woods carded a one-under 71 at Muirfield Village to be tied for 18th and five shots behind leader Tony Finau.

The 15-time major champion said he felt the nerves on his return to the PGA Tour.

"I was certainly feeling the edginess and nervousness and anxiousness of playing, and getting out there and feeling something I hadn't felt in a while," Woods told a news conference.

"It felt good."

Woods made four birdies and three bogeys during his round, admitting to being "a little bit rusty".

The 44-year-old lamented his inability to take his chances at a tournament he has won a record five times.

"It's been a while since I've played. Got off to almost an ideal start and got a feel for the round early," Woods said.

"I just didn't make anything today. I had looks at birdies, but I really didn't make much."

He added: "I was very pleased the way I drove it, my feel for my irons. I just didn't quite hit the putts hard enough. Most of my putts were dying, didn't quite have enough oomph to it."

Tiger Woods carded a one-under 71 on his return as Tony Finau grabbed the lead after the first round of the Memorial Tournament.

In action for the first time since February, Woods made a decent start at Muirfield Village on Thursday, mixing four birdies with three bogeys in Dublin, Ohio.

Woods, a five-time winner of the tournament, made birdies on two of his first three holes before dropping shots at the sixth and eighth.

The 15-time major champion produced a wonderful approach shot to birdie the 15th, only to give that up at the next, but Woods made a 14-footer for birdie on the last.

Finau also endured a rollercoaster round, but nine birdies and three bogeys helped the American card a 66 to take the outright lead.

Ryan Palmer sits solo second thanks to a five-under 67, while Brendan Steele and Gary Woodland are a shot further back.

Jon Rahm, Charles Howell III and Lucas Glover carded 69s to be tied for fifth.

The congestion follows with a group of 10 players opening with two-under 70s, with world number one Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth among them.

Starting on the back nine, Spieth made an eagle at the par-five 11th before a double bogey followed at the 12th, but he steadied to shoot a 70.

Joining McIlroy and Spieth in a tie for eighth are defending champion Patrick Cantlay, Luke List, Mark Hubbard, Ryan Moore, Max Homa, Patrick Rodgers, Jimmy Walker and Harris English.

Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, meanwhile, endured major struggles.

Johnson had four bogeys, two double bogeys and a triple bogey in his eight-over 80, while Fowler carded an 81 that included seven bogeys and a triple.

Tiger Woods might be at the centre of attention, but big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau was impossible to ignore ahead of the opening round of the Memorial Tournament.

Superstar Woods and the newly bulked-up DeChambeau practised together on the eve of the tournament, which marks the former's return to the PGA Tour for the first time since its coronavirus suspension.

While Woods has been away, DeChambeau has been hard at play, the new power generation leader stretching his run of top-10 finishes to seven tournaments, including a win at the Rocket Mortgate Classic in Detroit earlier this month.

Tackling the Muirfield Village course this week is the latest challenge for DeChambeau, who has bulked up physically in recent months to greatly improve his distance off the tee. Many bookmakers make him the favourite for this week, given his recent consistency.

Where Woods was once the biggest hitter on tour, DeChambeau is now setting the standards in length, but with extra yardage comes the need for greater subtlety with the short irons, and that is an area where DeChambeau knows he needs to tune up.

"I haven't really worked that hard on it because I've been working so hard on the driving and on the putting, and it showed in Detroit," DeChambeau said.

"That's the next step for us and for my team ... how to become like a Steve Stricker or like a Tiger with his wedges, or JT, Justin Thomas. He's unbelievable with his wedges. If I could gain a little bit of that magic, that's just another edge that we're trying to get at.

"I have worked on it a little bit. I know where we're going to be heading to try and test some stuff."

DeChambeau, who will begin in a group with Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay,has long lived in awe of 44-year-old Woods, the 15-time major winner.

"Even now, he's hitting it pretty long. There was a couple of holes he hit 320, 325 [yards]. That's pretty good for his age. It's amazing for his age," DeChambeau said.

"I'd say that he inspired a whole new group of golfers to do new and amazing things, to not be afraid of hazards, to not be afraid of tough golf courses and go after it and just play without fear.

"I never imagined that I'd be even hitting it this far. That was never my game. It wasn't a thought until this last fall, until I started saying, you know what, maybe there's something here. Maybe I can gain a little bit of yardage if I go down this route, and lo and behold, there was a lot of yardage to be gained that I never thought I would have done when I was a kid."

Jack Nicklaus, the founder of Muirfield Village, said he is relishing seeing DeChambeau close up this week.

"I've seen him on television, and he's a much bigger man. But he was tall to start with, but if he's carrying 250 pounds, that's a lot of weight for Bryson," Nicklaus said.

"But Bryson, he doesn't look heavy, he just looks big. I want to watch a little bit, watch him play a little bit. I'd like to see what he does and how he's actually doing that because he's obviously doing something right. The ball is going a long way. And he's playing well with it."

As for DeChambeau, he would love to impress Nicklaus, golf's greatest champion.

"Anytime you get to play Muirfield Village and play in front of Jack, it's a special honour," said the 26-year-old.

"It's definitely a challenge no matter how you look at it with this added length, and I appreciate it, and look forward to using it to my advantage hopefully a few times this week."

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said he is hopeful of welcoming back spectators before the end of 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The PGA has already confirmed no fans will be present for the remainder of the current season due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Golf returned behind closed doors in June, but Monahan hopes to have at least some sort of crowd in attendance later in the year.

The 2020-21 season will begin with the Safeway Open in California on September 10.

"I mean, we're doing everything we can to be prepared to have fans at our tournaments certainly in the final quarter of the year post-Tour Championship," Monahan said on Wednesday, with the Memorial Tournament scheduled to start at Muirfield Village on Thursday.

"The way it works – just so you guys all have a sense of it – is at this point we have enough time to be able to continue to assess what's happening on the ground in the markets where we play, speaking to governors, speaking to mayors, speaking to health authorities ... I think as we get into early August and mid-August, then we'll start making some decisions about where we're going to be post-Tour Championship with our events.

"We're hopeful that you're going to see fans at our tournaments when we get to the back half of the year, or quarter of the year."

World number one Rory McIlroy is in the field for this week's Memorial Tournament, where American superstar Tiger Woods will make his first appearance since February's Genesis Open.

Since the PGA's return, four-time major champion McIlroy has not finished in the top 10 – tied for 32nd at the Charles Schwab Challenge, T41 at the RBC Heritage and T11 at the Travelers Championship.

On golf without fans, McIlroy told reporters: "What I've experienced, I haven't necessarily been in contention the last few times that we've played without fans, but if anything I've realised personally that it's very hard for me to keep focus out here.

"I feel like when there's fans and there's that energy and the atmosphere, it's easy to get into that mindset that you need to get into, right, like that's what we're used to, that's what we do. 

"But when you don't have that, I felt the first three weeks my mind was wandering a little bit. Sort of easy to lose focus, easy to lose concentration. I think some of the mistakes I was making were because of that.

"It could go both ways, but I think fans or no fans, if you're in with a chance to win a tournament, I think you're going to feel it regardless."

Tiger Woods is likely to find returning to the PGA Tour and playing behind closed doors "a little weird", according to world number one Rory McIlroy.

American Woods will play at the Memorial Tournament this week, his first appearance since the Genesis Invitational in February, which was before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

He will start the event in a star-studded feature group alongside Brooks Koepka and McIlroy, who feels the 15-time major champion may need some time to adapt to playing without spectators present.

"The first three weeks that I played, Colonial, Hilton Head, Travelers, looking back on them, they were really good just to see and get a feel for what it was going to be like," McIlroy said about no fans being present.

"Now someone like Tiger has not experienced that yet, and maybe he is going to find it a little weird going out there [on Thursday] and not having anyone, especially with the amount of crowds that he has to deal with all the time when he plays. 

"I felt the first three weeks my mind was wandering a little bit. Sort of easy to lose focus, easy to lose concentration. I think some of the mistakes I was making were because of that.

"I've realised personally that it's very hard for me to keep focus out here. I feel like when there's fans and there's that energy and the atmosphere, it's easy to get into that mindset that you need to get into. That [having fans] is what we're used to, that's what we do.

"It was just a good look at what we we're all going to expect going forward, and as I just alluded to there about losing concentration and losing focus, you just have to work really hard to keep your mind on the task at hand.

"[Try] not let your mind wander because there's so many opportunities for it to wander because we're in big, open spaces and you're looking around – you don't have that sort of tunnel of people to keep your focus."

McIlroy finished in ties for 32nd and 41st at the Charles Schwab Challenge and RBC Heritage respectively, before improving to claim a share of 11th at the Travelers Championship.

Having taken two weeks off and put in work with his coach Michael Bannon, the Northern Irishman feels more optimistic about his game coming into a tournament where he has claimed two top 10s in the last thee years.

"Look, this is a huge event," he said. "I saw a stat that this field is stronger than the last eight Masters tournaments in terms of strength of field, so there's a lot of obviously World Ranking points.

"There's a lot to be focused on this week. Memorial Tournament is one of the biggest events we play all year, and looking forward it is definitely the start of a big run [of tournaments].

"I'm excited. It was nice to take a couple weeks off. I had planned to play the Workday [Open], but I just needed to do a little bit of work on my game, so I got my coach, Michael Bannon, over last week.

"It was the first time I'd seen him since the start of February, so it was nice to spend some time with him, get some good work done and feel a bit better about my game and my swing looking ahead to the next couple of months."

Dustin Johnson believes Tiger Woods will be ready to go at the Memorial Tournament – his first event in five months.

Woods will play on the PGA Tour for the first time since February when the event begins at Muirfield Village on Thursday.

Johnson, who has missed the past two tournaments after winning the Travelers Championship, has no doubt the 15-time major champion will be ready.

"Obviously it's tough to simulate competition, but if anybody will be ready to play after not playing for five months, I think Tiger will be," he told a news conference.

"I don't think he would come back and play this week if he wasn't ready."

Johnson, the world number four, said the biggest challenge after a break was being mentally switched on.

"For me it's mostly the mental game, really, is the hardest, just to get into competition mode and to remember you're playing in a golf tournament and not just at home playing for fun," he said.

"You know, just to obviously play in a competition, you think a little bit differently than you do when you're just out there slapping it around with your buddies."

Tiger Woods backed the move to postpone the Ryder Cup to 2021 as he carefully sidestepped the question of whether he could be the next United States captain.

The match between Europe and the USA had been due to take place at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, from September 25 to 27, but the coronavirus pandemic meant it was set back 12 months.

Woods agreed that was the correct decision as he spoke to reporters ahead of this week's Memorial Tournament.

Steve Stricker will lead the United States into that match in September 2021, and Woods will hope to earn a place on the team.

He may be toying with the possibility of leading the American challenge in Italy two years later, having skippered the USA team in the 2019 Presidents Cup.

But Woods was not keen to entertain that question when it was asked of him.

"As far as captaining, we haven't looked that far," he said. "I did my captaincy last year, and it was a lot of work, and I'm sure that I'll look into that in the future."

The 15-time major winner was less oblique when considering the fate of this year's planned Ryder Cup.

"Quite frankly, a Ryder Cup without fans is not the Ryder Cup," Woods said. "As far as I can remember, I've always seen people involved in a Ryder Cup and the chanting and screaming and the participation, the bipartisanship that has been part of the sport and part of the event.

"I think what they did with suspending it for the year and moving it to next year was the right thing. We couldn't have an environment in which we could protect all the fans that were going to be involved and have that type of insurance.

"Obviously if that's the case, you can't have the fans. Well, if you can't have the fans, then it's not the Ryder Cup.

"We did the right thing of holding off for the year, and now from the US side, we're going to have to figure out how we're going to accumulate points, how many players Strick is going to be able to pick and figure that out, and build our team from there."

Ryder Cup results as a player have been anomalous amid the enormous success Woods has enjoyed in his 25-year career, with his record showing 13 wins, 21 losses and three drawn matches from eight appearances on the team.

He lost all four of his matches in Paris two years ago, having been picked as a wildcard by captain Jim Furyk.

Tiger Woods insisted he was "excited" to return to golf as he laughed off claims from close friend Justin Thomas that he was "scared" to return to the tour.

The 15-time major winner spoke on Tuesday, two days ahead of the Memorial Tournament getting under way.

He said golf would feel like "a different world", with "nothing to feed off" given the absence of spectators, and vowed he would go all out for victory this weekend.

But Woods also admitted his instinct when golf returned was to "stay at home and be safe", and see how early events panned out, given the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that physically he feels in great shape, having been struggling fitness-wise earlier in the year, and revealed he had been playing plenty of tennis at home, watching lots of television and reading books by his favourite author Dean Koontz.

Woods, 44, has weighed up the safety elements of playing competitive sport again, given the possibility of contagion, and said: "That's the risk that I'm taking, that's the risk all of us are taking.

"The tour's done a fantastic job of setting up the safety and trying to make sure all of us are protected, are safe.

"But it is a risk we are now undertaking - going outside your property and being around individuals who you don't know where they've been or what they've been doing.

"We've had to make adjustments but it's a risk that I'm willing to take."

Woods was out on the Ohio course early on Tuesday with Thomas, who playfully had suggested golf's greatest player of the past 30 years was hiding away.

"I got a bunch of texts and a bunch of calls when he said that and hence I'm out here," Woods said, laughing.

"So I'm not afraid of JT anymore, I've gotten over that, and here we are."

He said it would be strange to play without "the noise, the energy that people bring".

"It's silence and a different world," he added. "Even at college I had a few people following me."

The PGA Tour has been up and running since mid-June, and last week's Workday Charity Open tournament took place at the same Muirfield Village course that will host the Memorial Tournament.

Woods clearly gave thought to playing from the off, but was wary of how the resumption might pan out.

"I did consider playing - I tried to figure out if I should play or not," he said. "I just felt it was better to stay at home and be safe.

"I'm used to playing with lots of people around me and having lots of people having a direct line to me. That puts not only myself in danger but my friends and family.

"I feel I'm comfortable enough to come out and play again and I'm excited to do it."

Now comes the question of whether Woods can be competitive, having not played since finishing last among those who made the cut at the Genesis Invitational in February.

"I would like to say that I'm going to win the event. That's my intent going in here and going into every event," Woods said.

"Whether that plays out... hopefully that will be the case."

There will be no fans present at PGA Tour events for the rest of the current season due to the coronavirus crisis.

The PGA Tour confirmed on Monday they had made the decision impacting the remaining events on the 2019-20 schedule "out of an abundance of caution".

"As we have said from the start, our number one priority remains the health and safety of everyone in the communities where we are invited guests each week," said PGA Tour Chief Tournaments and Competitions Officer Andy Pazder.

This week's Memorial tournament in Ohio, which will involve Tiger Woods, was supposed to be the first event with spectators present, but those plans were scrapped earlier this month.

It will now be played behind closed doors, as was the case with the five events played since the Tour's resumption in June.

The US PGA Championship major and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational have also been among the tournaments to announce they will take place without spectators present.

As a result of the Tour’s latest update, no fans will be able to attend events like the Wyndham Championship and the trio of tournaments in the FedExCup playoffs.

The 2020-21 season will begin with the Safeway Open in California on September 10.

No decisions have been reached on events from then on, with the rescheduled Masters and U.S. Open, which are run independently and fall into next season's calendar, yet to decide on fan attendance.

Collin Morikawa overcame Justin Thomas in a play-off to win the Workday Charity Open, his second title on the PGA Tour.

In just his 24th start as a professional, Morikawa capitalised on a late collapse by Thomas to join his fellow American in a share for top spot after 72 holes – the pair locked together at 19 under par.

There was nothing to split them when they twice played the 18th again, both managing an opening birdie before Thomas missed a putt for victory.

Having moved to the 10th, Thomas quickly found trouble off the tee and, forced to pitch out, handed the advantage to his rival. Morikawa duly seized the opportunity, collecting the par he needed to prevail at the third extra hole.

Former world number one Thomas had held a two-shot lead overnight having produced three bogey-free rounds at Muirfield Village.

While Thomas dropped shots at the second and third in a shaky start to his Sunday, a run of four birdies around the turn had the world number five back on track for victory.

An eagle at the 15th pushed Thomas three clear, yet he bogeyed two of his final three holes to sign for a score of 69, only enough to tie with Morikawa after the 23-year-old had risen up the leaderboard with his 66.

Viktor Hovland (71) finished alone on 15 under, his hopes for a late charge dashed by a one-over back nine, with Chase Seiffert (67) was a further shot back.

Justin Thomas will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Workday Charity Open after carding another six-under 66 on Saturday.

The world number five has posted rounds of 68, 66 and 66 at Muirfield Village, moving to 16 under and into a two-stroke lead in Dublin, Ohio.

Thomas, the 2017 US PGA Championship winner, is yet to make a bogey at the PGA Tour event, as he searches for his second victory of the year.

The American made three straight birdies beginning at the fifth, before also picking up shots at 11, 14 and 15.

Thomas is two shots clear of Viktor Hovland, the 22-year-old Norwegian also posting a 66 as he mixed eight birdies with two bogeys.

Overnight leader Collin Morikawa could only manage an even-par 72 to be three shots adrift of Thomas.

Morikawa is outright third after a rollercoaster round, mixing four birdies with four bogeys to sit at 13 under.

Sam Burns (70) and Kevin Streelman (71) are tied for fourth at 11 under, a shot ahead of Ian Poulter (69) and Rory Sabbatini (69).

Rickie Fowler carded an impressive 66 to climb into nine under and a tie for eighth, alongside Gary Woodland (66), Chase Seiffert (70), Hideki Matsuyama (72) and MJ Daffue (65).

Collin Morikawa opened up a three-stroke lead at the Workday Charity Open, while Jordan Spieth is likely to miss the cut as the second round was suspended.

Morikawa continued his consistent start at Muirfield Village on Friday, carding a six-under 66 to get to 13 under.

But dangerous weather meant the second round was delayed twice before being suspended due to darkness.

Morikawa is three shots clear of fellow Americans Kevin Streelman (64) and Justin Thomas (66).

After an opening-round 65, Morikawa struggled on his front nine before making six birdies on his final eight holes.

Streelman holed nine birdies during his impressive round, while Thomas is in contention after a bogey-free round.

There were 33 players unable to complete their second rounds, with Rory Sabbatini – who is at eight under and through 17 – the best-placed of those, sitting in a tie for sixth.

Spieth, a three-time major champion, is in danger of missing the cut after a second straight even-par 72, with the projected cut at two under.

Brooks Koepka is also set to miss the cut, the world number six shooting a 69 to be at one under.

Sitting a shot behind Streelman and Thomas in a tie for fourth are Hideki Matsuyama (68) and Sam Burns (66), while Viktor Hovland (67) is at eight under alongside Sabbatini.

Englishman Ian Poulter (69) and Chase Seiffert (69) are at seven under.

Patrick Reed is in full support of the decision taken to delay the Ryder Cup, insisting the presence of fans will make it "even sweeter" when the event takes place in 2021.

Due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Ryder Cup organisers announced this week that the 2020 edition will be pushed back 12 months.

The United States will have home advantage next September when Europe travels to defend the trophy at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, with the action unfolding between September 24-26.

While the PGA Tour has returned behind closed doors, Reed believes the Ryder Cup would not be the same if played out without a packed crowd at the course, as their presence brings out the emotion in the players.

The 29-year-old has experienced both sides of the occasion, too. He has lost twice on European soil, including in 2018 at Le Golf National, but was also a member of the USA team that triumphed in 2016 under the captaincy of Davis Love III.

Speaking after his opening round at the Workday Charity Open, Reed said: "I think probably if you asked everybody - captains, assistant captains, players, both organisations - that they're disappointed, obviously, that we're not going to play Ryder Cup this year, but at the end of the day I feel like they made the right call.

"The Ryder Cup is not the same if you have it at 50 per cent fans or if you have it at no fans. The fans are kind of what makes the Ryder Cup.

"You go in there and you - if you're the home team, you have everyone behind you, and if you're away, you want the hostility, you want people to kind of go at you. That's the fun thing about the event.

"So with either cutting fans back or not having them at all, I also don't think you'll get as much emotion out of players, and with that being said, I feel like it just wouldn't be a Ryder Cup.

"I mean, they made the right decision, and it's just going to be even sweeter whenever we're able to play next year."

The Ryder Cup will continue to take place in odd-numbers years in the future, with the 2023 tournament to be held in Italy.

Collin Morikawa edged into a one-stroke lead at the Workday Charity Open, while Jordan Spieth struggled during the opening round on Thursday.

Morikawa carded a seven-under 65 at Muirfield Village to hold a narrow advantage over Adam Hadwin.

A one-time PGA Tour winner, Morikawa made an eagle and six birdies before dropping a shot at the last hole.

After a top-10 finish at the Charles Schwab Challenge, former world number one Spieth has struggled in two events since and opened with an even-par 72.

The three-time major champion was three over through 13 holes before a birdie at 14 and an eagle at the par-five 15th saw him sit in a tie for 64th.

Hideki Matsuyama, Zach Johnson, Nick Taylor and Aaron Wise made brighter starts, shooting five-under 67s to be tied for third.

Justin Thomas, the world number five, is a shot further back in a group of 11 players who carded 68s.

Thomas recorded top-10 finishes at the Charles Schwab Challenge and RBC Heritage before missing the cut at the Travelers Championship, but the American is back in contention.

Pat Perez, Louis Oosthuizen, Tim Wilkinson, Peter Malnati, Patrick Reed, Ian Poulter, Adam Long, Graeme McDowell, Roger Sloan and Chase Seiffert are alongside Thomas at four under.

Brooks Koepka, meanwhile, battled to a two-over 74.

Tiger Woods will compete on the PGA Tour for the first time in five months after committing to play the Memorial Tournament next week.

Woods has won the Memorial Tournament five times and will be hoping to clinch a record-breaking 83rd PGA Tour victory when he competes at Muirfield Village, having tied Sam Snead's all-time best mark at the Zozo Championship back in October.

"I'm looking forward to playing in the @MemorialGolf next week," the 15-time major champion posted on Twitter.

"I've missed going out and competing with the guys and can't wait to get back out there."

Woods has not featured on the tour since the Genesis Invitiational in February, with golf put on hold for three months during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the 44-year-old was in action in May, teaming up with Peyton Manning and beating Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in The Match: Champions for Charity. The event helped raise over $20million to help with COVID-19 relief.

In addition to his five tournament wins, Woods has also finished in the top 10 a further four times – most recently in 2019 – and enjoyed Presidents Cup success at Muirfield Village.

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