Justin Thomas pulls Woods’ leg, says he is scared of others; fans will still stay out at the Memorial

V Krishnaswamy | Updated on July 14, 2020 Published on July 14, 2020

The PGA Tour stays on at the Muirfield Village for the second week running, something that is extremely rare on the Tour, but the field this week is one of the strongest-ever as World No. 1 Rory McIlroy will be back, and Woods will be making his first appearance since PGA Tour’s ‘Return to Golf’ after the stop in the middle of March due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The field is stellar, but spectators are not allowed onto the course with caution still the buzzword as the Tour continues into its sixth week after the re-start. But Justin Thomas spiced up things by jokingly throwing friend Tiger Woods a challenge, saying he is scared of other players.

This week at the Muirfield Village on a course that Jack Nicklaus built, the PGA had planned to welcome back the fans. It was also widely expected that Woods would finally tee up. While Woods did confirm his return, the spectators will stay out.

During last week’s Workday Charity Open, where Justin Thomas lost to young gun Collin Morikawa in a tight playoff, Thomas was asked about Woods and when they last played together. He said, “Yeah, probably, right before the (Charity) match (featuring Woods, Phil Mickelson and two NFL legends, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady). I have not played with him in a while. Just because I've been busy. I've been playing, and he's been home. I'm glad that he's finally coming back out.”

He laughed and added, “I think he was starting to get a little sassy, I was telling him he's scared to come out and play against all of us when he's sitting at home; just trying to give him a hard time. But yeah, we're excited to have him out. He looked great. I mean, it was a couple of months ago, and everybody saw how well he played in the (Charity) match. That was the last time we've actually played a round of golf.”

Woods has won five times at the Memorial and is looking forward to taking on his friends and the bunch of youngsters like Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff and others. Morikawa has won once and finished second once, while Wolff has finished second once and Hovland is the only player to have made the cut in each of the five events since the re-start. This will be the sixth straight week for Hovland, who won once last year and in 2020 stood out while beating Brooks Koepka and others at the Hero Challenge in Abu Dhabi at the start of the year.

The featured pairings for the first two rounds show Woods alongside McIlroy and Koepka. McIlroy took last week off, while Koepka birdied five of his closing seven holes at last week’s Workday Charity Open, but missed the cut by a stroke. Minutes later he confirmed his entry for the Memorial.

Other star groups include Mickelson, Shane Lowry and Justin Rose, who has seven top-10s in 13 appearances at the Memorial Tournament, highlighted by a win in 2010.

Bryson DeChambeau, who capped a great run of Top-10s with a win at Rocket Mortgage will play with Morikawa And Patrick Cantlay, the defending champion at the Memorial Tournament. DeChambeau won the 2018 Memorial Tournament, while Morikawa won last week, so all three have won at Muirfield Village

And, then there is Justin Thomas, the new leader on FedExCup standings with Xander Schauffele and Dustin Johnson, who with a victory at the 2020 Travelers Championship, extended his streak of winning at least one TOUR event to 13 consecutive seasons.

On Monday, the PGA Tour also announced Monday that spectators are not going to be allowed for any of the remaining events this season. The next four events – 3M Open, WGC-FedEx St Jude, Barracuda and the Wyndham will also not have spectators.

The FedExCup playoffs will also be played without fans, while it had been already announced that the PGA Championships at TPC Harding would be played without spectators. In essence, what it means is that the spectators will not return for the 2019-20 season, which ends with the Tour Championship on September 7.

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Published on July 14, 2020
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