‘Totally different’ Muirfield Village compared to last week
July 16, 2020
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- July 16, 2020
Differences in course setup at Muirfield Village in second consecutive event
One week later.
Same golf course.
Different scoring conditions. Very different.
The Muirfield Village Golf Club that PGA TOUR pros feasted on in last week’s Workday Charity Open was nowhere to be seen in Thursday’s opening round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. A much firmer course, much faster greens, a little higher rough and a significant increase in wind speed along with swirling direction certainly caught the attention of TOUR pros in town for a second consecutive week.
Dr. Jekyll had turned into Mr. Hyde.
“After playing last week, I'm surprised at how different they could get the golf course,” Charles Howell III said after his 3-under 69, among the best scores shot in the morning.
A week ago at Muirfield Village, the field average for the opening round was 72.121 strokes, and it eventually dropped to a cumulative 71.85 after four rounds. For the morning wave on Thursday, the field average was 73.7.
“It's not even remotely close to the same,” noted Justin Thomas, who lost in a playoff to Collin Morikawa last week after finishing 19 under in regulation. Thomas was bogey-free for his first 55 holes at the Workday Charity Open. On Thursday, he shot a 2-over 74 that included four bogeys – matching his total of his entire week at Workday.
“It was a totally, totally different golf course,” JT added. “The course is in fantastic shape right now. It's very tough.”
Morikawa, coming off his second TOUR win last week, found it even tougher. He shot a 4-over 76 that included a three-hole stretch of double bogey at the par-4 14th, a three-putt bogey at the par-5 15th and double bogey at the par-4 16th. He also suffered another three-putt bogey at the par-5 fifth.
Morikawa knew things would be different immediately after returning to Muirfield Village on Tuesday.
“You already saw the greens get about a foot, foot-and-a-half faster, and today when we stepped on the course, even though it was morning you could start seeing a little shine, so you know the first bounces were skipping a little more, getting a little firmer,” Morikawa said.
“The rough has obviously just kept growing. They've put some water on them. You miss in some spots, sometimes you've got to chip out and you never know what kind of lie you're going to get, but for the most part it's not going to be good. … Today it played a lot windier, which just made it a little tougher.”
Last week was the first time Morikawa had played Muirfield Village since turning pro, so Thursday was his first time to see it in “Memorial” conditions. Meanwhile, last year’s Memorial winner, Patrick Cantlay, wasn’t prepared for what he saw last week. He still tied for seventh, but he appreciated seeing a familiar set-up on Thursday.
“I would say really this week feels normal,” Cantlay said after shooting a 2-under 70. “Last week felt a little odd with the different hole locations and how slow everything was.
“Last week in a weird way for me was more of an adjustment. Collin obviously hadn't seen it in previous Memorials so this week is an adjustment for him, but for me, today felt like back to normal.”
Cantlay was among many players citing the changing, swirling wind conditions as having a big impact on their scores. Bryson DeChambeau, who did not play last week after winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, said “the wind played tricks on us today” during his 1-over 73.
“It swirls a lot,” said DeChambeau, who recorded two drives over 400 yards. “For example, on 5 today, I had 230 in and I felt like at the moment when I was standing over it, it was 20 miles an hour downwind, and when I hit it, it dead stopped. Can't do anything about it. … I hit 7-iron, and that thing flies 207 for me when I hit it good, and I felt like it would carry, and it obviously didn't.
“That's golf, man. I mean, you're not going to shoot the lowest number every single day.”
The player who shot the lowest score in the morning was Brendan Steele with a 4-under 68. Steele tied for 52nd last week, finishing with a 76 on Sunday, but the tougher set-up on Thursday played more to his strengths.
After an early bogey, he kept a clean scorecard for his last 15 holes, including an eagle at the par-5 11th when he holed out from 111 yards.
“It was a big adjustment last week,” Steele said. “I don't think I ever quite got there, but I was hoping that I didn't get there today, that I wasn't still feeling like it was going to be soft and a lot slower than we're used to today.
“I was able to adjust. This is more what I'm used to here. You had to kind of flush all your memory of last week if you wanted to do well, and then this week you've got to bring it all back. I was able to do that, and it's much more what we're used to but very difficult.”