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Sport: Muirfield Village punches back, ready to dole out more punishment in Memorial

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DUBLIN, Ohio – Players beat Muirfield Village Golf Club to a pulp last week in the Workday Charity Open.

a group of people that are standing in the grass © Provided by Golfweek

The course returned in kind in Thursday’s first round of the Memorial.

And it’s ready to dish out more punishment.

One player after another staggered off the golf course after their opening round looking like they went five rounds in the Octagon instead of walking 18 holes of Jack Nicklaus’ gem, which is the first course to host back-to-back PGA Tour events since 1957.

How to Watch: Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village Golf Club

  How to Watch: Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village Golf Club After the John Deere Classic was canceled in May, Muirfield Village Golf Club stepped up for a fortnight of PGA Tour golf that's been affectionately dubbed the Dublin Double. Muirfield will take on a slightly different look this week for the Workday Charity Open, which will serve as a prelude to next week’s Memorial Tournament, a staple of the summer calendar. © File photo Rickie Fowler hits his tee shot on the 1st hole during the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament at Detroit Golf Club.

Memorial: Tee times | How to watch | Leaderboard

Last week felt like an old Bob Hope Desert Classic as 19 under earned a spot in a playoff and 57 of the 67 players who made the cut finished in red numbers. This week feels more like a U.S. Open with thicker rough, quicker fairways and greens running 14 on the Stimpmeter – about 3 feet faster than the putting surfaces ran during the Workday, as the greens were watered thoroughly to protect them as they faced a two-week stress test.

And Mother Nature decided to throw some haymakers in the first round with winds howling in the 20-25 mph range.

“It’s not even remotely close to the same,” said world No. 3 Justin Thomas, who needed 14 holes to make his first birdie and shot 2-over 74 four days after losing in a playoff to Collin Morikawa. Last week, Thomas, a former world No. 1 and a two-time winner this season, shot 68-66-66-69 and made 22 birdies and an eagle. He won’t get close to those red numbers this week.

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Some players may have wondered what course Tony Finau played as he signed for a 6-under-par 66. Or where Ryan Palmer teed it up after his 67. Only five others – Brendan Steele (68), Gary Woodland (68), Charles Howell III (69), Lucas Glover (69) and Jon Rahm (69) broke 70. Only 24 of the 130 in the field broke par, including Tiger Woods (71).

“I scored it about as good as I could,” Finau said. “On a golf course like this in these conditions, it really forces you to think about every shot and stay in the present, and that’s what I was able to do today and score the golf ball.

“Whenever you’re thinking about wind on a putt, you know it’s pretty tough.”

Tough? Check these scores out. Morikawa, four days removed from winning for the second time in his young PGA Tour career, shot 76 and is in danger of missing just his second cut. World No. 4 Dustin Johnson, who won his 21st PGA Tour title at the Travelers Championship in his most recent start three weeks ago, shot 80. World No. 11 Xander Schauffele and Bubba Watson shot 78. Hideki Matsuyama, who won here in 2014, shot 75. World No. 7 Bryson DeChambeau, who won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in his last start, hit two tee shots longer than 400 yards but managed only a 73.

Different tournament, different look for Muirfield Village

  Different tournament, different look for Muirfield Village DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — The final group at the Workday Charity Open was making its way down the 13th fairway when the radio of a tournament official at Muirfield Village crackled to life with what was described as “breaking news.” Everyone within earshot moved closer to the cart waiting for the word. “The milkshake machine has arrived.” Breaking news? Sure. Big news? That depends on access. Milkshakes — buckeye is the most popular flavor — are a tradition at Muirfield Village during the Memorial, served in the clubhouse to players and tournament staff.Except this wasn't the Memorial. That doesn't start until this week.

“They let the rough grow a little bit, so you’re unlikely to find some good breaks if you miss the fairways,” Jordan Spieth said after a 70. “But mainly the course has dried out significantly without any rain the last few days, and the greens are a foot to two feet faster on the Stimpmeter.

“I left everything short last week. These are back to the speed you’re used to seeing at the Memorial, but when you throw in 15 mile-an-hour winds and the winds have to be opposite the slopes because the greens are so fast, you’re left with a lot of really kind of cross-wind, cross-hill putts, and it’s very difficult to commit on the greens. I think putting is as challenging as anything in these conditions.

“It’s almost like going into a major championship. You’ve just got to be prepared for a little bit of everything.”

And Muirfield Village is not going to get any easier, especially if the clouds don’t open up the rest of the week. The course baked a bit Monday through Wednesday under bright skies. A splash of rain hit Thursday morning but that quickly dried out. And Friday and Saturday have no rain in the forecast.

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“I don’t know if there’s any rain coming, but they’ll have to keep an eye on (the greens) just to be sure,” Palmer said. “It’s going to get tougher and tougher, there’s no doubt.”

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