Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

The Loop

Woods to return at Memorial, but what about his game?

May 29, 2009

If there's a reason we haven't heard speculation about what is ailing Tiger Woods recently, it's because Woods has taken the last two weeks off. If only the Washington Nationals had the same option.

But now the game's No. 1 player has committed to next week's Memorial, which is only slightly more surprising than news he is also planning on playing the U.S. Open.

True, Woods has missed two of the last three tournaments at Jack Nicklaus' place -- after his father died in 2006, and then after his first knee surgery last year -- but it was a foregone conclusion that he would be there this year.

The reasons vary: it's Jack's tournament and if you're going to miss it, you better have a decent excuse (Woods' recent absences would qualify); Tiger has won at Muirfield Village three times in his career; and last but perhaps most importantly, the guy needs to play.

Mind you, this is not only for Woods to satisfy his obligations as a member of the PGA Tour -- the tour minimum is 15 events and Woods has only played six so far --- but because the only way he is going to work his way back into form is by actually putting some miles under the proverbial hood.

This is the point our own John Hawkins made in a column following the Masters, noting that Woods usually plays his best golf later in the season when he's well into a competitive rhythm. Hawk shouldn't take it personally that Woods has played only twice since that column ran. That's just the way Woods planned out his season, and seeing how he's likely to be fairly active between the U.S. Open and the end of the FedEx Cup playoffs (remember those?), he still has a chance to find his groove.

But maybe we shouldn't expect him to find it by next week.

-- Sam Weinman