Nicklaus legacy lives on through Memorial tournament
Of all the gifts Jack Nicklaus has given to the fans of golf, there’s still one that keeps on giving.In its 35th year, the Memorial Tournament is one of the gems of the PGA Tour season. Though it is not a major, it’s widely regarded as one of the best of the rest of the tournaments.“The Memorial is always mentioned as it feels like a major championship because of the international field and because of how the golf course sets up,” said Tom Sprouse, director of communications for the Memorial Tournament.Nicklaus, who is renowned for his skills in golf course design, designed Muirfield Village Golf Club in 1974 with the intent to create a golf tournament much in the style of the Masters.Muirfield was one of the first golf courses designed with the spectator in mind. With his use of mounds and amphitheaters, Nicklaus accomplished one of his long time dreams of creating a challenging golf tournament that both the players and the fans could enjoy. “Growing up I always used to watch the Memorial Tournament, which is his tournament, and it really inspired me to want to play golf,” said Bo Hoag, an All-American golfer for the Ohio State men’s golf team.Muirfield is ranked No. 19 in Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses in 2009-2010, and the No. 1 golf course in Ohio.“I thank him every time I see him for building Muirfield,” said three-time Memorial Tournament Champion Kenny Perry about Nicklaus.Nicklaus was meticulous in making sure that his course was in peak condition for this weekend.“The golf course is really good. Perfect, basically. I came here — I played Saturday and Sunday, two days in a row. That is a lot of golf for me,” Nicklaus said. “The golf course, I couldn’t find anything. I went along and I found a little bit of material that came up slightly on a bridge, so we fixed that.”With nine of the top 10 players on the PGA Tour’s money list set to compete at the Memorial this weekend, Nicklaus is anticipating another exciting tournament at the course he calls home.“Obviously the field is good. Obviously the World’s No. 1 and 2 are here. Every year we always have a good field. This year shouldn’t be any different,” Nicklaus said.The Memorial Tournament has crowned a who’s who of golfers as its champion, including Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Nicklaus himself.Nicklaus actually held the course record for five years with a 6-under par round of 66, which he shot the very day the course opened in May of 1974.Despite great talent across the board, Nicklaus noted one sub-plot of the tournament that he will be keeping his eye on.“I think it’s probably interesting that Tiger and Phil are sort of battling for No. 1 at this point in time,” Nicklaus said. “That should be interesting here. Obviously Tiger has played better than Phil has here, but Phil has played well here.”Woods, the only four-time winner of the tournament, will return to defend his 2009 Memorial win in his first tournament since leaving the Players Championship with a neck injury earlier this month.