DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Jon Rahm was motoring to victory alongside the again 9 of Muirfield Village final 12 months at the Memorial, and simply as compelling was the exercise on the entrance 9.
Heavy gear was contained in the ropes, ripping out big strips of turf.
Rahm returned to what match host Jack Nicklaus described as a new golf course, regardless that a lot of it would look the identical.
“It’s Jack. I know he’s always trying to make this a little bit more challenging for us, and he’s definitely succeeded in making the golf course more difficult,” Rahm stated Wednesday.
Nicklaus described the most recent mission as his “last bite at the apple,” and it began with a nibble.
The unique thought to Chad Marks, the golf course superintendent, was to rid the greens of the poa annua grass. From there, the dialog turned to the fairways, after which the irrigation system that was due to get replaced. And whereas they have been at it, the bunkers have been in want of an improve.
Nicklaus instructed him, “What you’re trying to say is you want to build a new golf course.”
“They went in and we just obliterated the place,” Nicklaus stated. “And what you got out there is what you see now.”
It wasn’t all about size — Muirfield Village is about 90 yards longer on the cardboard — however creating new methods on among the holes, notably the par 5s.
Most startling to the attention is the fifteenth gap, which beforehand was an uphill drive. The large hitters who might attain the crest and get slightly extra roll had a view of the inexperienced, the place a creek meandered alongside the proper facet.
That has been lowered 20 ft with three bunkers on the proper facet, feeding the opening towards the left and the beginning of a creek. The mound separating the the greenside bunkers and the creek was eliminated — something proper of the bunkers now will probably be moist.
On the entrance 9, the inexperienced on the par-5 fifth was moved again about 30 yards and successfully reduce in half, making it the smallest inexperienced on the course. Rahm was in excellent place throughout his pro-am spherical Wednesday. A 12 months in the past, that might be a 4-iron to the inexperienced. Now it is a 5-wood, and it was simply quick.
“I feel like we’re going to see a lot more people laying up,” Rahm said.
It might require some players who have been at Muirfield Village for more than a decade to get used to the subtle changes, especially on some of the greens.
“I loved the golf course before. I still love it now,” Justin Thomas stated. “I think it’s a great track, a great test. And it’s a place where you can go out and shoot 64 or 65 or 66, but it’s also a place where you can shoot 74 or 75 just as easily if you’re not playing well. I think this golf course still has that aspect to it.”
What hasn’t modified is the thick grass that frames the fairways and Memorial having one of many strongest fields of normal PGA Tour occasions. Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1 participant, and Brooks Koepka are amongst these sitting out. He is enjoying subsequent week in South Carolina forward of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Rahm and Collin Morikawa could make a case for serving as co-defending champions. Morikawa gained at Muirfield Village every week earlier than the Memorial final 12 months, a one-time occasion to exchange the John Deere Classic when tournaments final summer season have been nonetheless dealing with the pandemic.
The Memorial was on the verge of getting spectators till every week earlier than the match. Now it has opened its ready checklist for its most loyal followers, and capability may very well be anyplace between 25% to 75%.
“Everything we heard last year was crickets,” Rahm stated. “There was no applause, no cheers.”
Crickets have given approach to cicadas.
The massive bugs with orange eyes emerge from the bottom each 17 years. The final time at the Memorial in 2004, it was commonplace for them to connect onto the shaft of a driver in the midst of a swing. More than something, they’re noisy.
Patrick Reed wore white pants throughout a follow spherical Tuesday and was shocked to look down and see a couple of on his leg. He heard the complete refrain on the again of the seventh tee.
“They were rocking,” Reed stated. “It was really loud and they were going. But they’re fine because it’s just the steady kind of noise. So it almost feels like just white noise. So it’s not that bad. But it definitely makes it more lively out there. You definitely hear them.”