Officials of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance announced today that World No. 1 Tiger Woods – coming off his fourth win of the year at THE PLAYERS – has committed to returning to Muirfield Village Golf Club to defend his 2012 title and try to add to his record five Memorial victories.
In addition, the Memorial has accepted commitments from international superstars Lee Westwood and Luke Donald. Westwood is making just his second appearance at Muirfield Village.
The 38th Memorial Tournament is May 27-June 2.
Woods, 37, will be making his 14th appearance in the Memorial. His historic shot on last year’s 70th hole, a chip-in birdie, vaulted Woods to his fifth career victory at the prestigious invitational hosted by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus.
“It’s an honor to come back here as defending champion,” said Woods. “It’s always great to win a tournament, but when it’s Jack’s, it’s extra special. I look forward to the Memorial every year, and Jack does everything he can to make it an outstanding event.”
Since returning to golf after knee and Achilles injuries sidelined Woods for four months of his 2011 season, the 14-time major champion and two-time FedEx Cup champion has recorded seven wins and 14 top-ten finishes in 29 events. Just this season, Woods currently has four wins in only seven starts, including last week’s two-shot victory in THE PLAYERS that marked his 78th career PGA TOUR title, second on the all-time list only four behind Sam Snead. The Jupiter, Fla., resident is ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, a position he has held for a record 632 weeks during his career since turning professional in 1996. Woods is also ranked No. 1 in FedExCup points, scoring average with 68.516 over 25 rounds, and on the career money list with $106,800,300 in earnings.
“Tiger is playing some of the best golf of his career, and that says a lot, since he has been, arguably, the dominant figure in the sport for the last 15 years or so,” said Jack Nicklaus. “He not only comes to Muirfield Village with four victories this year, but he also arrives as our defending winner. His fifth Memorial victory was one of our most dramatic in the Tournament’s history, with birdies on three of his final four holes. Included was his chip-in for birdie on the 16th hole, which I have said many times might be one of the best shots I have seen under those circumstances: Down by a shot with three holes to play; the ball resting in thick rough; and water on the other side of the green. If Tiger leaves the ball short, he’s going to face a very difficult shot. And if he hits it long, he’s probably going to lose the Tournament. Tiger landed the ball exactly where he had to land it. What a shot.”
Donald is no stranger to success on the PGA TOUR. He spent a total of 56 weeks as the World No. 1 from May 2011 to August 2012, which ranks fifth all-time behind Tiger Woods, two-time Memorial winner Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, and 2010 Memorial Tournament honoree Seve Ballesteros. Although he has yet to seize his first major championship, he has come close on multiple occasions. Donald enjoyed a career year in 2011, which included a plethora of awards: PGA TOUR Player of the Year, which is known as the Jack Nicklaus Award, PGA Player of the Year, European Tour Player of the Year, the Byron Nelson Award and Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average, and the Arnold Palmer Award as the leading money winner with $6,683,214. Donald also won the European Race to Dubai, becoming the first player to win both the PGA TOUR and European Tour money list titles in the same year. So far during the 2013 season, Donald has finished in the top-10 twice. His best outing came at the RBC Heritage where he finished tied for third. The 35-year old Englishman, who resides in Evanston, Ill., has won five career PGA TOUR titles. Currently, Donald ranks No. 6 in the world and No. 42 in FedExCup points. He will be making his ninth career start at Muirfield Village Golf Club, where he has finished inside the top-15 in his last four starts, including a 12th place finish last year.
“I have been a fan of Luke’s for many years,” Nicklaus said. “He is such a steady, smart player, with a marvelous short game. He is also someone who works extremely hard at his game. I can attest to that, as I see him regularly at The Bear’s Club, practicing for hours on end. He’s been the world’s top-ranked player and he remains one of the best in the world. We are delighted that he is returning to Muirfield Village Golf Club.”
Westwood has built a résumé that includes 35 international victories since turning professional in 1993, and he spent 22 weeks as world No. 1. He has recorded two PGA TOUR titles, playing a limited TOUR schedule prior to becoming a full member in 2005. Since then, Westwood has amassed 28 top-10 finishes, including runner-up efforts at the 2010 Masters Tournament and Open Championship. With five top-10 finishes in 2013, Westwood is currently ranked No. 11 in the world and No. 29 in FedExCup points. The 39-year old Englishman, who now lives in West Palm Beach, Fla., finished tied for 29th in his only appearance at Muirfield Village in 2003.
“Lee is another player once ranked No. 1 in the world and he has been one of the game’s best players for a long time, so we are thrilled to include him in the Memorial Tournament field,” said Nicklaus. “I think this golf course suits Lee very well, and he should enjoy the challenge. Lee plays good golf courses well, and I certainly look for a strong week out of him.”
In other Tournament related news, the Memorial has released an amended mobile device policy. The policy reads as follows:
Cell phones and mobile devices are permitted on the property, yet please recognize that their use is expressly restricted. The Memorial Tournament has instituted a “zero tolerance” policy for any breach of these restrictions. At ALL times cell phones and mobile devices must be kept in the “silent” mode. During the four competitive rounds, mobile devices are not permitted for use any closer to the field of play than the paved cart paths and only then to access data. Voice usage is restricted to designated areas, which include: all concession and merchandise areas and social media hub locations. Mobile device photography is permitted during practice rounds but is prohibited throughout the official competition starting with the first round of the Memorial Tournament. Capturing video is prohibited throughout Tournament week.
To ensure an enjoyable experience for fans and the proper competitive environment for players, the Memorial Tournament reserves the right to confiscate phones or devices from violators of this policy. Confiscated phones can be retrieved at the completion of play at Lost and Found adjacent to the main pro shop in the clubhouse.
“We continue to focus on methods to improve communication with our patrons regarding proper mobile device etiquette during competition,” said Memorial Tournament Executive Director Dan Sullivan. “Our goal is to provide an on-course environment that allows the players to compete without interruption and our patrons to have an enjoyable Tournament experience. This year we have created the Mobile Devise Courtesy Committee, a group of volunteers who will patrol the course and remind patrons of the revised mobile devise policy, including the designated on-course areas that have been set up to accommodate mobile devise use. I know our patrons will respect the policies put in place which will help improve our Tournament operations over previous years.”
All-week Patron Badges to the 2013 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance are available to the general public. The badges, valid May 27 – June 2, cost $155 and include three complimentary any-day Practice Round tickets at no extra cost. As always, kids 12 and under can attend for free, and kids 18 and under are admitted free on Wednesday for Junior Golf Day. The public may call the Tournament Ticket Office 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays at 877-MT BADGE or visit www.mtbadge.com to purchase badges. Daily tickets for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday practice rounds are also available. The cost is $30, and they are valid for all three practice-round days. Additionally, 2013 Memorial Tournament patrons can purchase tickets to The Presidents Cup 2013 at a special rate of $185 for Grounds tickets or $310 for Captains’ Club tickets (per ticket price). Offer valid through May 26, 2013.