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Golden Bear softens treacherous 16th at Muirfield Village, but it’s no pushover


It’s arduous for a lot of the gamers within the Memorial Tournament to think about there was a time the maddening par-3 16th at Muirfield Village Golf Club was a welcomed sight.

Yes, years in the past, the quick gap was a mild problem for the gamers in Jack Nicklaus’ annual bash within the Buckeye State. From the primary event in 1974, the antepenultimate gap on the course designed and constructed by Nicklaus wasn’t a lot of a trouble.

Then, with the 2013 Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village upcoming, the Golden Bear sunk his claws into the turf in 2010 and dug out a lake abutting the inexperienced on the left that teamed with three extreme bunkers on the fitting that immediately turned the opening — 200 yards on the scorecard — right into a monster with loads of tooth.

The watery terror was in play beginning with the 2011 version of the Memorial. Since then, it was been ranked 1 or 2 because the hardest gap within the event all but two years, and in these years, it was the third most tough gap. Since 2011, it has been the hardest gap in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

How powerful?

In 10 years, there have been simply two aces on the 16th within the event — Jason Dufner in 2015 and Rod Pampling in 2016. In the 2013 Presidents Cup, Ernie Els was the one participant to birdie the opening in singles motion as he knocked in a 25-footer to go 1 up on Steve Stricker in a match he gained two holes later.

Jon Rahm celebrates a birdie chip on No. 16 at last year's Memorial. It turned into a bogey 4 when he was penalized for his ball moving slightly as he addressed the shot. Rahm learned of the penalty after he had won two holes later.

Jon Rahm celebrates a birdie chip on No. 16 at final yr’s Memorial. It become a bogey 4 when he was penalized for his ball shifting barely as he addressed the shot. Rahm realized of the penalty after he had gained two holes later.

And final yr, Phil Mickelson laid up on the opening. When it measured 173 yards. With his tee shot, he left himself 43 yards from the pin. The six-time main winner was moved to go this distinctive route by making 5 double bogeys on the opening in two weeks (the Workday Charity Open was held at Muirfield Village the week earlier than final yr’s Memorial).

“It just is a hard golf hole for me,” Mickelson mentioned. “Obviously you can’t go left in the water, and when I go right, usually it’s a hotter shot like I pull it or it draws and it’s always on the downslope of the bunker, and I just can’t stop it oftentimes on the green. So I just laid up to where I have an angle to putt it up the green, so I took a 5 out of play and I was trying to make a 3 and had a 12-footer for it.”

He missed and made bogey.

The gap has been dwelling to heroics — suppose the flop shot Tiger Woods holed en path to victory in 2012. Been dwelling to some weird moments, too — keep in mind Jon Rahm’s pitch-in birdie final yr that become a bogey 4 when he was penalized for his ball shifting barely as he addressed the shot. Rahm realized of the penalty after he had gained two holes later.

Now, going ahead, the opening figures to be much less penalizing.

During his full general of the course forward of this yr’s event, Nicklaus found the shallow inexperienced on the 16th truly pitched from entrance to again, and with the floor often agency, gamers had a tough time holding the inexperienced with tee pictures. Especially from 200 yards with wind at their backs.

“Remember everybody how hard that green’s been? It’s been like a rock,” Nicklaus mentioned. “Nobody could stop it on the green before.

“So we took seven inches out of the middle of the inexperienced and added seven inches to the again of the inexperienced and now the inexperienced sits to you.”

Ian Poulter hits out of a bunker onto the 16th green at the 2020 Memorial.

Ian Poulter hits out of a bunker onto the 16th green at the 2020 Memorial.

2020 PGA champion Collin Morikawa said there was no place to bail on the 16th, especially when it played downwind. Now the hole isn’t as much of a bear.

“You need to hit a very good shot, do not get me mistaken, that is the 16th gap of an amazing golf course,” Morikawa said. “But to know that it may be a little bit extra receptive, hopefully, helps. But with new greens? New greens usually get actually agency actually quick, so we’ll see what occurs.”

And world No. 2 Justin Thomas said despite the changes, the 16th hasn’t turned into a cupcake. In the first round spread over two days because of storm delays, the hole ranked in a tie for the sixth hardest hole — there were 16 birdies and 23 bogeys and others to average 3.126 strokes per player.

And that was with the green soft.

“It’s nonetheless a very arduous gap,” he said. “If something the far proper bunker simply grew to become a tougher bunker shot. There’s a little bit bit larger slope sort of going to the again half.

“I think it would be a lot better hole from the tee up. I just think it’s a hard green to hold, that back section, with a 6-iron or 7-iron and potentially a 5-iron if we get a different wind. So I think it’s still a really difficult hole and tee dependent and wind dependent changes it, but I think the right bunker shot has become more difficult because it all slopes away more.”

This article initially appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Golden Bear softens treacherous 16th at Muirfield Village, but it’s no pushover

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