Same strong field at Memorial gets new look for golf course

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DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Jon Rahm was motoring to victory along the back nine of Muirfield Village last year at the Memorial, and just as compelling was the activity on the front nine.

Heavy equipment was inside the ropes, ripping out huge strips of turf.

Rahm returned to what tournament host Jack Nicklaus described as a new golf course, even though so much of it might look the same.

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“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 said Wednesday.

Nicklaus described the latest project as his “last bite at the apple,” and it started with a nibble.

The original thought to Chad Marks, the golf course superintendent, was to rid the greens of the poa annua grass. From there, the conversation turned to the fairways, and then the irrigation system that was due to be replaced. And while they were at it, the bunkers were in need of an upgrade.

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Nicklaus told 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 said. “And what you got out there is what you see now.”

It wasn’t all about length — Muirfield Village is about 90 yards longer on the card — but creating new strategies on some of the holes, particularly the par 5s.

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