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Woods heads potent field for next week's Memorial

Tiger Woods reacts after being presented with The Players Championship trophy after winning the PGA golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte
Tiger Woods reacts after being presented with The Players Championship trophy after winning the PGA golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte

(Reuters) - Next week's Memorial tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio will feature one of the season's strongest fields with the world's top six players all taking part in the PGA Tour event hosted by Jack Nicklaus.

Top-ranked Tiger Woods will be back to defend the title he claimed by two shots last year while Rory McIlroy (second), Adam Scott (third), 2010 champion Justin Rose (fourth), Brandt Snedeker (fifth) and Luke Donald (sixth) will also be competing.

Apart from five-times winner Woods and Rose, seven other former champions will be returning - K.J. Choi (2007), Fred Couples (1998), Ernie Els (2004), Jim Furyk (2002), Kenny Perry (2008), Carl Pettersson (2006) and Vijay Singh (1997).

"We are always extremely proud of the fields we are able to assemble ... and this year's stands as one of our finest," tournament founder Nicklaus said in a statement on Friday after the 120-strong field was set for the May 30-June 2 event.

"We have the top five players in the world, and almost the entire top 10 from the FedEx Cup and money lists. We are delighted that world No. 1 Tiger Woods is returning to defend his victory from 2012, and that recent world No. 1s Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood have joined him."

Also taking part next week will be Chinese sensation Guan Tianlang who became the youngest player to make the cut in a major championship at the Masters last month.

The surprisingly mature 14-year-old will make his fourth start in a PGA Tour event when he tees off in Thursday's opening round, having been given a sponsor's exemption for the Memorial tournament.

"It is Jack Nicklaus' event, and the same as all the golf fans out there I have very high respect to Mr. Nicklaus, not just as a golf legend, but also as a great person," Guan said in a statement.

"He has been actively involved in the development of golf in China, and junior golf development worldwide, and as a junior golfer myself I appreciate what he has done to help us grow.

"My parents and I got the chance to meet him in person at the Masters, and that was one of the highlights of my week at Augusta National."

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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