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Woods prepared to take risk with 'silent' return to PGA Tour

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Tiger Woods is a five-time winner of the Memorial Tournament. Photo: Getty Images

Tiger Woods is a five-time winner of the Memorial Tournament. Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images

Tiger Woods is a five-time winner of the Memorial Tournament. Photo: Getty Images

For the professional golfer who has been watched more than any other in history, Tiger Woods goes into the Memorial Tournament with understandable apprehension.

Not only will this be his first appearance in five months, but also his first in an opening round played behind closed doors.

"It'll be a very different world out here, not to have the distractions, the noise, the excitement, the energy that the fans bring," Woods said.

"It's just a silent and different world. For some of the younger guys it's probably not particularly different.

"They're not too far removed from college or they've only been out there for a year or two, but for some of us older guys, it's eye-opening really . . . even when I was (playing) in college (events) I had a few people following."

There is never any let-up for Woods and the PGA Tour has generously partnered him with Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka at Muirfield Village in Ohio.

A five-time winner of the event promoted by Jack Nicklaus and hosted at the Golden Bear's course, Woods is in the top 10 of the betting at 22/1, an absurd price in a field boasting 42 of the world's top 50 for a 44-year-old who in his most recent event finished last of those who made the cut, complaining of a sore back.

This is only Woods's third tournament in 2020 - he withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players - and even though he performed notably in a charity match in May, there has to be rust.

Woods revealed that he was tempted to return to the Tour earlier after it resumed last month, but was put off by Covid-19 concerns.

"I just felt it was better to stay at home and be safe," he said.

"I'm used to playing with lots of people around me and that puts not only myself in danger, but my friends and family. That's something I looked at and said, 'I'm not quite comfortable with that whole idea'. Let's see how it plays out first. I feel that I'm comfortable enough to come back out here and play again."

Nevertheless, there have been six positive tests on Tour since it restarted five weeks ago and Woods accepts it is not an entirely safe environment.

"That's the risk that I'm taking, that's the risk that all of us are now taking," Woods said.

Woods is just one star name in a heavyweight field that also includes Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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