Will Woods, Mickelson Meet again at The Memorial?

Defending champion Tiger WoodsJack Nicklaus' tribute to the tradition and rich history of the game could turn out to be the next battleground in the fight for the world's No. 1 ranking.

Dublin's Muirfield Village Golf Club, which was designed by the Golden Bear, will host the 35th installment of the storied Memorial Tournament the first week in June, and while an elite field has already committed to the event, much of preliminary discussion will be about the status of defending champion Tiger Woods.

When Woods pulled out of The Players with a neck injury, the local golf community held its collective breath, hoping the top player in the world would be healthy enough to make his annual visit to Ohio.

"I want to come back and obviously defend at Memorial and play the U.S. Open and, obviously, play here," Woods said from Amonriak Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia during media day for the AT&T National. "But a lot of that's still up in the air right now. It's not a place where I want it to be no doubt, but I'll have a lot more answers after I get an MRI."

Woods has since learned the results of that MRI, and the diagnosis was an inflamed joint. The prognosis is a full recovery, but no timetable has been set for his return to tournament golf.

"I want to thank everyone for their caring and concern," Woods said on his Web site. "I now need to take care of this condition and will return to playing golf when I'm physically able."

Last year Woods shot a final round 65 that included seven birdies and an eagle to best Jim Furyk by a single stroke.

The man chasing Woods, second-ranked Phil Mickelson, committed to The Memorial after skipping last year's event.

"He's always been a popular player," Memorial Tournament Director Dan Sullivan recently told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "I think he has elevated his position from maybe being a star to being looked upon as carrying the torch in some respects."

Mickelson picked up his fourth career major championship win earlier this year at The Masters. After Woods failed to make the cut at Quail Hollow, Mickelson's streak of 21 consecutive cuts made now stands as the high water mark on the PGA Tour.

Mickelson's best finish at The Memorial came in 2006 when he tied for fourth.

Other notables in the field include Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Players Champion Tim Clark. 

 

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