Tiger Woods took positives from his long-awaited PGA Tour return at the Memorial Tournament, while the 15-time major champion did not give much away regarding his plans ahead of the US PGA Championship.

Woods carded a four-over 76 as he stumbled to a share of 40th position at Muirfield Village, where he finished 15 strokes adrift of champion Jon Rahm on Sunday.

Former world number one Woods was in action on Tour for the first time since February, barely making it to the weekend in Dublin, Ohio after struggling with a stiff back on Friday.

Woods – a five-time Memorial winner – closed his first tournament back with a double bogey, five bogeys and three birdies to be six over after 72 holes.

"I competed and played again," the 44-year-old American superstar said afterwards. "It's been a while. It was nice to get my feet wet and compete and play again.

"Tough, tough conditions to start out my first week back. But it was good to get the feel and the flow of competing again."

"As far as my swing, it felt good," he said. "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."

Woods added: "I didn't feel comfortable playing break. I've been in Florida playing Bermuda [grass greens] and seeing minimal break, come out here and playing 10, 12 feet of break was a bit different and something I'm going to have to get used to."

The US PGA Championship will take place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, starting August 6, after the coronavirus pandemic forced the major to be moved from May.

Asked whether he needed "more reps" before heading to San Francisco, four-time PGA Championship winner Woods replied: "Competitive reps or more reps? More reps, yes. I definitely need more reps."

Jon Rahm said it was a "true honour" to join Seve Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to become world number one.

Rahm clinched a three-stroke victory at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday to go top of the world rankings.

The 25-year-old was honoured to achieve the feat, with the great Ballesteros having been the only Spaniard to manage it before Rahm.

"I don't know how to describe it. It's been a goal since I was 13, 14 years old," Rahm told a news conference after surpassing Rory McIlroy as number one.

"I remember I heard a story on the radio from my swing coach back in Spain, Eduardo Celles. We were driving somewhere and he asked me what my goals were and my ambitions and this and that, and I remember telling him, I think 13 or 14 years old, it's like, 'I'm going to be the best player in the world', and that's what I set out to be.

"Every day I wake up trying to be a better player, a better person, every single day, a better husband, and that's how I can sum it up.

"Any time I can join my name to Spanish history or any kind of history, it's very unique. Seve is a very special player to all of us, and to be second to him, it's a true honour."

While Rahm was in control for most of the final round at Muirfield Village, there was controversy late in the tournament.

He chipped in from the rough for birdie at 16, but was later assessed a two-stroke penalty after it was ruled his ball had moved.

Rahm accepted his penalty, saying: "I didn't see it. I promised open honesty and I'm a loyal person, and I don't want to win by cheating.

"And it kind of happened a couple years ago, I basically told the officials to make the decision they wanted, I just explained my side and I wasn't given any penalty. And today I see it, and the ball did move. It's as simple as that.

"The rules of golf are clear. Had I seen it, I would have said something. But you have to zoom in the camera to be able to see something, and I have rough, I'm looking at my landing spot. I'm not really thinking of looking at the golf ball. I'm one of those where I'm looking down but my awareness is not on the ball.

"As unfortunate as it is to have this happen, it was a great shot, serious. What it goes to show is you never know what's going to happen. I'm glad I grinded those last two up-and-downs because had I missed both of them, plus the penalty stroke, maybe Ryan [Palmer] finishes strong, I would be in a play-off, and I'm glad I finished it off good.

"I want everybody to hear it – it did move. It is a penalty. As hard as it is to say for how great of a shot it was – as hard as it is to say that, I won't finish double digits under par. But it did move, so I'll accept the penalty, and it still doesn't change the outcome of the tournament. I'm going to stay with that."

Jon Rahm became the world number one after a three-stroke victory at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday.

The 25-year-old became only the second Spaniard to reach the top ranking, joining Seve Ballesteros, after closing out his win at Muirfield Village.

Rahm carded a three-over 75 in the final round, producing a nervous finish after holding an eight-shot lead at one stage.

He made a bogey at the 10th and a double at 11 before dropping another shot at 14.

Rahm produced some magic at the par-three 16th to hole out from the rough, only to later be assessed a two-stroke penalty after it was ruled he moved his ball.

He finished at nine under after the penalty was handed down, three strokes clear of Ryan Palmer (74), to clinch his fourth PGA Tour victory.

The shot at 16 gave Rahm a boost and he told CBS: "It’s exactly what I needed.

"This golf course is no piece of cake in the best of conditions and with how firm everything was, any missed shot it was going to be brutally penalised and it happened, a couple of shots I barely missed like 14 and 15 and I ended up with a bogey and a par.

"But luckily, probably pulled out the best short-game shot I'll ever have, I hit a couple of good ones this week but that was unbelievable.

"I knew I could hit it close, I got a good lie and it was kind of into the wind but for that to go in was exactly what I needed."

Rahm was in control for the most part in Ohio, where dangerous weather led to a delay of almost an hour during the final round.

Matt Fitzpatrick (68) finished third, a shot behind Palmer, while Matt Wallace (72) and Jason Day (73) were tied for fourth.

Jordan Spieth (tied for 13th), Justin Thomas (T18), Rory McIlroy (T32) and Tiger Woods (T40) were further back.

Jon Rahm is the second Spaniard to become world number one after winning the Memorial Tournament on Sunday.

The 25-year-old replaced Rory McIlroy atop the world rankings thanks to his victory at Muirfield Village.

Rahm joined the great Seve Ballesteros, who was last world number one more than 30 years ago, as the only Spaniards to reach the top ranking.

The win was Rahm's fourth on the PGA Tour and first of 2020.

Rahm spoke on Saturday about the significance of potentially becoming world number one, while describing the late Ballesteros as a "huge influence".

"It's obviously a big deal. I can't sit here and try to diminish it and avoid it because it would just be lying to myself because it is a big deal," he said.

"But it is a consequence of me winning. What's important to me [on Sunday] is hit good shots, be committed and get the job done.

"Everything else will be taken care of afterwards."

Jon Rahm said it would be a "big deal" to become world number one after pulling clear at the Memorial Tournament.

The Spaniard will take a four-stroke lead into the final round at Muirfield Village after carding a four-under 68 on Saturday.

Rahm can become the second Spaniard to hold the top ranking after the great Seve Ballesteros and the 25-year-old was not playing down the significance.

"It's obviously a big deal. I can't sit here and try to diminish it and avoid it because it would just be lying to myself because it is a big deal," he told a news conference.

"But it is a consequence of me winning tomorrow. What's important to me tomorrow is hit good shots, be committed and get the job done.

"Everything else will be taken care of afterwards."

Rahm is four shots ahead of Ryan Palmer and Tony Finau heading into the final round.

While being inspired by Ballesteros, Rahm's focus is on producing another strong performance on Sunday.

"Seve is a huge influence of mine. I've said many times thanks to that Ryder Cup in '97 and his captaincy and the way he inspired many not only in Spain but in Europe, he's the reason why I'm playing here today," he said.

"Any time I can do something remotely close to what he did, it's pretty emotional. I can't lie. It's something that deep in my core as a Spaniard and as a player I would love to achieve, and if you think about it, major champions that came after him like Sergio [Garcia] and [Jose Maria] Olazabal never got to be, so it would be quite unique.

"But again, it's all a consequence of me winning tomorrow, right, so it's an afterthought.

"I've got to get out there tomorrow, play solid again and get the job done and think about the number one afterwards."

Jon Rahm opened up a four-stroke lead after the third round of the Memorial Tournament on Saturday.

The Spaniard produced the equal best round of the day at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, carding a four-under 68.

Rahm sits at 12 under and is four shots clear of Ryan Palmer (73) and Tony Finau (73) as players again found scoring difficult.

World number two Rahm is on track for his first victory of 2020, having not finished in the top 25 in four events since the PGA Tour season resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break.

He was even through 12 holes in his third round before going on a run of four straight birdies beginning at the 13th, and the 25-year-old is primed to move top of the world rankings.

Finau endured a rollercoaster round that included double bogeys at 12 and 17.

Danny Willett (70) is outright fourth at six under, a shot ahead of Jason Day (72) and Henrik Norlander (71), while Matt Wallace (70) and Chez Reavie (74) are at four under.

World number one Rory McIlroy (72) and Jordan Spieth (74) appear too far back to challenge, sitting at two under and in a tie for 12th.

Justin Thomas slipped further back after a three-over 75 – now sitting at even par.

Tiger Woods, a five-time winner of the tournament, bounced back from his 76 with a 71 to climb into a tie for 37th and be at two over.

Tiger Woods accepted he was fortunate to still be in the Memorial Tournament as he reflected on his improved fortunes in the third round.

A difficult second round at Muirfield Village had seen the five-time Memorial champion, who opened the event with a 71, sign for a four-over-par 76.

After narrowly avoiding missing the cut, Woods was back under par with a one-under 71 on Saturday, improving to two over for the tournament.

The 15-time major winner did not suffer with the same movement issues he encountered the day before as he recorded four birdies and three bogeys in humid Ohio conditions.

Woods recovered nicely after finding water and dropping a shot on the third hole.

"I felt like I played well and controlled the ball well," Woods said. "I hit one really bad shot there at three, but other than that, it was a pretty good, solid day.

"I was fortunate the cut came back [on Friday]. I made a little run at the end, and at times it was looking like it was going to be at two [over], but fortunately I snuck in at three.

"Then I was moving better [on Saturday] and felt like I did the first day, and consequently I could make the passes at the golf ball like I did the first day. 

"Unfortunately, I didn't make any putts, so hopefully I can make a few more [on Sunday]."

Woods fared better than playing partner Brooks Koepka, whose one-over 73 left him at four over through 54 holes.

Asked about conditions on the course, Woods added: "It's tough. It's fast.

"The golf course is right where they want it. Now that the wind has picked up just a touch, it's going to dry it out a little bit more.

"The ball is starting to run out on the greens. Some of the fairways are starting to chase."

Leader Tony Finau was at 10 under par through nine holes of his third round.

Tiger Woods conceded he is "just trying to hold on" after struggling with a stiff back as the 15-time major champion narrowly avoided the cut at the Memorial Tournament.

Woods – in action on the PGA Tour for the first time since February – barely survived at Muirfield Village, where the American superstar ended the second round just one shot above the cut line.

The five-time Memorial champion, who opened the event with a 71, signed for a four-over-par 76 to close Friday three over in Dublin, Ohio.

Three bogeys from his first nine holes left Woods in trouble, but the 44-year-old battled after the turn by birdieing two of his final three holes to make his 18th consecutive cut at the tournament.

"I wasn't quite moving as well as I'd like and couldn't quite turn back and couldn't quite clear. It was a bit of a struggle," said Woods, whose career has been plagued by back issues in recent years following surgery.

"It started this morning during the warm-up. It wasn't quite as good as I'd like, and it is what it is.

"The last four or five years have been difficult as I've gone through procedures and have tried to come back. It's going to happen more times than not.

"Ageing is not fun. Early on in my career I thought it was fantastic because I was getting better and better and better, and now I'm just trying to hold on."

Woods, who is 12 strokes behind leaders Ryan Palmer and Tony Finau, added: "I don't have the same type of stamina as I used to have, that's for sure, when I was training hard and running and all that stuff.

"Granted, I'm a lot older now, so things change, they evolve. You try to suck it up as best you can and get through it."

Ryan Palmer and Tony Finau are tied for the lead at the halfway stage of the Memorial Tournament, where 15-time major champion Tiger Woods narrowly made the cut.

Palmer carded a four-under-par 68 to join fellow American Finau in a share of the one-stroke lead following Friday's second round in Dublin, Ohio.

Finau was the outright leader when day two started, but a second-round 69 saw him head into the weekend with company at nine under through 36 holes at Muirfield Village.

Spanish star Jon Rahm is a shot off the pace after a five-under-par 67, while Gary Woodland (70), Chez Reavie (67) and Luke List (68) are tied for fourth at six under.

After opening with a 73, former world number one Jason Day posted a 66 to catapult himself into outright seventh position – four shots behind Palmer and Finau.

Back-to-back 70s has Jordan Spieth four under at the halfway point, one stroke ahead of another American star – Justin Thomas, who used a five-under-par 67 to climb 43 positions into a tie for 16th.

World number one Rory McIlroy's struggles continued after an even-par 72 saw him slip seven shots off the pace.

McIlroy is yet to finish in the top 10 of a PGA Tour tournament since golf resumed in June amid the coronavirus pandemic, and a double bogey and four bogeys left the Northern Irishman tied for 21st.

As for Woods, the American superstar barely survived to prolong his PGA comeback into the weekend on Friday.

Woods – in action for the first time since February – made a decent start but his second round was far more concerning amid back problems.

The 44-year-old, who opened the event with a 71, signed for a four-over-par 76 to close the day three over, just one stroke above the cut line.

Three bogeys from his first nine holes left Woods in trouble, but the five-time Memorial Tournament winner rallied after the turn by birdieing two of his final three holes.

While the likes of Brooks Koepka (75), Patrick Reed (76) and Phil Mickelson (74) managed to make the cut, Rickie Fowler (68), Justin Rose (76) and Bryson DeChambeau (76) failed to qualify for the weekend.

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."

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