Fresh off his 78th career PGA Tour win, Tiger Woods has added one of his favorite tournaments to his 2013 schedule, committing to play in The Memorial at the end of May.
Tiger has always enjoyed playing in Jack Nicklaus‘s event at Muirfield Village. Despite missing the tournament in 2011 due to injury, he returned in 2012 to win the championship for a record fifth time. He also won the event in 2009 and three time straight between 1999 and 2001.
For Woods, this tournament has always marked his final “tune-up” before the US Open, which will be his next opportunity to get closer to Nicklaus’ record of 18 Major championships. While the two have always seemed to have a relationship of mutual professional admiration, for some reason they’ve never developed much of a personal relationship. When asked about Woods during the Masters in April, Nicklaus said that the two have “never really had a conversation[...] that lasted more than a minute or two, ever.” While Tiger has never been known to make quick friends in golf, it’s always struck me as odd that he hasn’t connected more with Nicklaus. There aren’t many who have reached the rarefied air that those two now share.
While Nicklaus and Woods will continue to be mentioned in the same breath at every major championship, what’s important here is that Woods views this as the best way to get ready for the US Open. With the way he’s owned the Tour so far this year, a repeat title at Muirfield shouldn’t surprise anybody. When Tiger shows up to a tournament, it instantly raises that event’s status. It doesn’t get much bigger, though, than Woods, Nicklaus, and the Tour’s final stop before a major.