Not only will Tiger Woods be tasked with shaking off the rust after a five-month layoff at the Memorial Tournament, but he will also have to adjust to a playing environment he has never experienced on the PGA Tour.
"It's certainly a different world, different environment that we're in," Woods said after playing 18 holes with Justin Thomas on Tuesday. "To play practice rounds like this and to watch as the Tour has evolved and started back and to see no fans, it's just a very different world out here."
The 15-time major winner has spent his entire career playing in front of thousands of fans, an atmosphere he's become accustomed to that often provides him an advantage over less experienced competitors. But there won't be any outside distractions this week at Muirfield Village.
"I'm going to have to just put my head down and play," Tiger said. "But it's going to be different, there's no doubt about it. For most of my career, pretty much almost every competitive playing round that I've been involved in, I've had people around me, spectators yelling, a lot of movement inside the gallery with camera crews and media."
In fact, Woods couldn't even recall the last time he played a full competitive tournament without a gallery.
"Even in college, I had a few people following," he said with a laugh.
If Tiger does find himself in contention for his sixth Memorial Tournament victory, or in any of the remaining tournaments in the 2019-20 season, it's going to be eerie. Some of the most iconic moments in the 44-year-old's career were heightened by the crowd's reaction.
Thomas provided a glimpse of what those scenes might look like now after he dropped a 50-foot birdie putt during the first hole of last week's playoff and let out an emphatic "Come on!" that wasn't followed by any crowd noise.
"The energy is different. There's nothing to feed off of energy-wise," Woods said. "You make a big putt or make a big par or make a big chip or hit a hell of a shot, there's no one there. That's one of the more interesting things that it'll be going forward."
Source: The Score