By Andrew Both
(Reuters) - Tiger Woods has made accommodation plans for the Memorial tournament in Ohio, sources have told Reuters, suggesting the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event could mark the former world number one's PGA Tour return from back surgery.
Although Woods has made no commitment to the Memorial, and his plans remain fluid as he rehabilitates his body, it makes sense that he would want to compete in at least one tournament before the year's second major, the U.S. Open.
The Memorial tournament, to be played from June 2-5 on the Muirfield Village course in Dublin, a suburb of state capital Columbus, is held two weeks before the U.S. Open.
Woods entered the U.S. Open before the April 27 deadline, though his registration does not obligate him to play.
The deadline for regular PGA Tour events such as the Memorial is the Friday before the first round.
Woods is believed to have also made proactive accommodation plans for the May 12-15 Players Championship in Florida, though that might be a little too soon for his return.
He routinely skips the two PGA Tour events in north Texas that follow, suggesting that the Memorial is the most likely comeback venue, assuming his recovery continues on schedule.
His agent, Mark Steinberg, did not immediately respond to an email requesting confirmation of his client's Memorial accommodation booking.
Woods, 40, is a five-times Memorial winner, though his most recent memory there from last year is not a good one as he shot 85 in the third round.
TOUCH OF SYMBOLISM
He has won 14 major championships, and it would be a nice touch of symbolism if he made his comeback at the tournament hosted by Nicklaus, the only man with more major titles (18).
Woods has not competed anywhere since the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina last August.
He subsequently had two back surgeries that required long rehabilitation, but recent videos have emerged of him appearing to swing freely.
Nicklaus said recently that he thought Woods was only an outside chance to play the Memorial.
"If he wants to play, I would love to have him. If he doesn't think he's ready to play, then he shouldn't play," Nicklaus said.
On Friday, at his annual 'Tiger Jam' in Las Vegas, the former world number one was asked when he would make his PGA Tour return.
Woods replied: "Dude, if I knew, I would tell you. I'm sick of being on the sidelines ... I want to compete against these boys. I miss it."
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)