Golden Bear softens treacherous 16th at Muirfield Village, but it’s no pushover

It's hard for most of the players in the Memorial Tournament to imagine there was a time the maddening par-3 16th at Muirfield Village Golf Club was a welcomed sight.

Yes, years ago, the short hole was a gentle challenge for the players in Jack Nicklaus' annual bash in the Buckeye State. From the first tournament in 1974, the antepenultimate hole on the course designed and built by Nicklaus wasn't much of a bother.

Then, with the 2013 Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village upcoming, the Golden Bear sunk his claws into the turf in 2010 and dug out a lake abutting the green on the left that teamed with three severe bunkers on the right that instantly turned the hole — 200 yards on the scorecard — into a monster with plenty of teeth.

The watery terror was in play starting with the 2011 edition of the Memorial. Since then, it was been ranked 1 or 2 as the toughest hole in the tournament all but two years, and in those years, it was the third most difficult hole. Since 2011, it has been the toughest hole in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

How tough?

In 10 years, there have been just two aces on the 16th in the tournament — Jason Dufner in 2015 and Rod Pampling in 2016. In the 2013 Presidents Cup, Ernie Els was the only player to birdie the hole in singles action as he knocked in a 25-footer to go 1 up on Steve Stricker in a match he won two holes later.

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