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Jack’s Masterful Muirfield Village

Muirfield Village, host venue for the Presidents Cup matches that get underway today, has been a lifetime’s labor of love for Ohio homeboy Jack Nicklaus, who acquired the land for the course in 1966, the year he won the Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland. Working with Desmond Muirhead, Jack built a course intended for championship play, but the 6,978-yard layout that opened in 1974 isn’t the same course the U.S. and International teams will play this week. An inveterate tinkerer, Nicklaus has significantly tweaked and stretched his pet project over the past 40 years to ratchet up or refine the risk-reward strategy on a course with water in play at 13 holes. Arguably the most altered hole is the par-3 16th, which is now tough as nails and likely will decide more than a few matches. Rebuilt three years ago, this daunting 201-yarder plays to a shallow green defended in front by a pond. At the par-4 18th, lengthened to 484 yards, competitors will play from a new back tee slotted into a hillside that brings a gauntlet of bunkers up the right side into play. Unlike the historically rain-plagued Memorial Tournament held in May, the dry, firm conditions expected this week will bring all of Jack’s nuanced changes into sharp focus. Expect no surprises. The better team will win.

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