Miami (AFP)

The world's best-known golfer, Tiger Woods, returns to the North American golf circuit at the Memorial Tournament, sponsored by legendary Jack Nicklaus, which begins Thursday in Dublin, Ohio.

Contrary to what was originally planned, for the first time since the resumption of the PGA Tour, spectators will not be admitted to the Memorial. New health restrictions have been decided in Ohio, as the virus is on the increase in several American states.

Woods, last year's winner of the Masters at Augusta, his 15th Major, will try to win his 83rd title on the PGA Tour. He tied Sam Snead's record in October by winning in Japan at the Zozo Championship.

"I can't wait to play the Memorial," Woods tweeted last week to its 6.5 million subscribers. "I missed fighting against the other guys, so I can't wait to be there." Woods did not play any of the recovery tournaments after the long hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

During the first two laps on the Muirfield Village course, Thursday and Friday, Woods will play a dream game against the world number 1, the Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, and one of his best compatriots, Brooks Koepka, 6th in the world week.

Woods, 44, has already won the Memorial five times (1999, 2000, 2001, 2009 and 2012). He also experienced the humiliation of a catastrophic score of 85, the worst of his career, in the 3rd round of the 2015 edition.

Among bookmakers, Bryson DeChambeau, winner of the Memorial in 2018, is favorite, at 10 against 1, while Tiger is given at 25 against 1.

Woods captain of the USA who won the Presidents Cup in December in Australia, Woods then played two tournaments in early 2020, finishing 9th at Torrey Pines in January, then 68th at the Genesis Invitational in February.

This week he is ranked 14th in the world, just behind Collin Morikawa who has just won Sunday, on this same course in Muirfield Village, the Workday Charity Open after a playoff against Justin Thomas.

Again in delicacy with his back before the start of the pandemic, Woods came back in great shape in May to win an exhibition tournament, the Champions for Charity in which also participated Phil Mickelson and two stars of American football (NFL), Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

The next big tournament on Tiger's schedule will be the PGA Championship scheduled at Harding Park in San Francisco (August 6-9).

© 2020 AFP