DUBLIN, Ohio — The course Jack Nicklaus built is still under construction.
Muirfield Village performed about as expected under a rare and overdue week of dry, hot weather. The winning score of 281 was the highest for the Memorial over 72 holes since Hale Irwin won at 281 in 1985.
What stood out was the 16th, the toughest of the par 3 that left players grumbling. Jason Day was overheard saying after a tee shot into the bunker, “Stupid hole.” Nicklaus was in the television booth, laughed, and when someone suggested they turn down the volume, Nicklaus, “No, I think he might be right.”
Nicklaus said he would go back to work on the 220-yard hole with bunkers to the right and a pond to the left.
“We’ll adjust 16 next year,” he said. “I’ll do some things that will make it a more forgiving hole. When you’ve got only 25% of the guys hitting the green, which is what it was on Saturday, that’s not enough.”
Part of the problem was a wind direction blowing from left to right, sending most shots across the firm greens into the bunker. Scottie Scheffler hit 8-iron to 2 feet on Sunday. He called that the only shot that was offline all day (he wasn’t aiming there).
Nicklaus said he sat down at lunch with Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy over the weekend asking for their feedback.
“I don’t want guys walking around here saying, ‘What a great 17-hole golf course,’” Nicklaus said. “I’m trying to make this golf tournament the best I can make it. And if that means making an adjustment, we’ll make an adjustment.”
Adam Schenk played 11 out of 13 weeks to start the year because he and his wife had their first baby on the way. After the birth of their son, he played five straight weeks through the Memorial. And then he was facing 36-hole U.S. Open qualifying.
Schenk effectively had his own U.S. Open qualifier on Sunday at Muirfield Village.
He withdrew from U.S. Open qualifying before the Memorial. If he missed the cut, he could always add the Canadian Open in a bid to get into the top 60 in the world ranking.
“If I was making the cut, playing nice, I could play this weekend and let the cards fell where they may,” he said. “If I had Canada and the U.S. Open off, that’s fine.”
The scorecards showed a 68-71 weekend that led to a tie for seventh. He moved to No. 53 and should be safe to stay in the top 60 for the U.S. Open.
BELLY AND BALL
The USGA and R&A presented its thinking behind a proposed model local rule that effectively would roll back the golf ball. By all accounts, the PGA Tour players at a meeting at the Memorial were not convinced it was necessary.
Keegan Bradley did not go to the meeting, though he didn’t hold back. Some of that mistrust comes with the governing bodies deciding to ban the anchored stroke used for long putters. Bradley used one to win the PGA Championship in 2011, and it took him time to make the adjustment.
“I have a really strange relationship with the USGA from the belly putter,” Bradley said. “I just feel like the USGA admits to making mistakes and then they punish the players for it. I don’t feel like it’s our fault that they think that the ball went too far or that they should have banned the belly putter. They retroactively, decades later, try to adjust and then they just throw it on us.
“This is how we make our living,” he said. “I don’t think that’s necessarily fair that we pay for their mistakes.”
Adam Scott, who used a long putter when he won the Masters in 2013, serves as chairman of the Player Advisory Council. He was in the meeting and said he wasn’t swayed one way or the other after hearing from the governing bodies, and then manufacturers Titleist, Bridgestone and Callaway.
“I’m still sitting in the spot of waiting to see better evidence of why we should make such a drastic change at this point,” Scott said.
The PAC is to meet next week at the Canadian Open to discuss it more. The proposal is in the feedback process.
No one will have traveled farther in such a short time to get to the U.S. Open than Alex Noren.
The 40-year-old Swede tied for 52nd at the Memorial, and then left Ohio on Sunday night for Stockholm to play in the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed, the tournament where European tour and Ladies European Tour members compete from separate tees for one prize and one trophy.
He is to leave Stockholm on Monday morning and arrive in Los Angeles about 4 p.m.
And then he plays the major known as the toughest test in golf.
Ideal? Probably not. But this is more about feeling a responsibility to promote golf in his home country.
“Two years ago I didn’t play,” Noren said. “I’m aware that it’s not so easy to host a tournament in Sweden. The format is unique. I just think it’s cool to have a tournament like that in Sweden. I have two kids, one of them a girl. These are good opportunities, especially if it helps in getting more girls to play golf.”
Noren won’t arrive totally unprepared. He made a point to play two practice rounds at Los Angeles Country Club earlier this year.
John Deere has extended its title sponsorship agreement for the PGA Tour event it has sponsored since 1998. ... Georgia senior Jenny Bae, who lost in a playoff to Rose Zhang in the Augusta National Women's Amateur, has won the Inkster Award as the top college golfer in her final year of eligibility. The award is named after Hall of Fame member Juli Inkster, who waited until finishing college (San Jose State) to turn pro. Workday, a sponsor of the award, provides $50,000 to the Juli Inkster Foundation to help support Bae’s transition to professional golf. ... The Australian Open is going to Sydney this year with no shortage of golfers. The tournament will be at The Australian and The Lakes in Sydney featuring the men’s Open and the women’s Open held concurrently, separate competitions with equal prize money. This year also will include the Australian All Abilities Championship. ... Texas Children’s, the largest pediatric and women’s health system in the nation headquartered in Houston, is the new title sponsor of the Houston Open on the PGA Tour.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Patrick Rodgers has made it through U.S. Open qualifying each of the last three years, the longest such active streak.
“For an amateur to succeed as a pro, you've got to be able to beat everybody you played against as an amateur." — Jack Nicklaus.