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Born to Host

Sent on Thursday, November 14, 2013

Muirfield Village Golf Club was the dream and work of Jack Nicklaus. Opened in 1974, his creative use of “mounds” and “amphitheaters” became a model for tournament courses around the globe. Nicklaus’ revolutionary design has made Muirfield Village an ideal location for tournament golf. The inaugural Memorial Tournament was played in 1976 and has annually become one of the top stops on the PGA TOUR.  In 2013, his renowned golf course and club became the first venue in the world to host three of golf’s most prestigious international team competitions – The Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and The Presidents Cup.

1976 – 2013: the Memorial Tournament

Since its existence, the Memorial Tournament has been a premium stop on the PGA TOUR.  Thanks in large part to the Founder and Host, Jack Nicklaus, the Memorial has attracted golf’s biggest names throughout its 38-year history.

The Memorial Tournament each year continues its tradition of honoring a person, living or dead, who has contributed to the game of golf. This was Jack Nicklaus' idea as a contribution to perpetuating achievements of the game's greatest individuals. The honoree is selected by the Captain's Club, a group of the statesmen who act independently of the tournament organization and advise on player invitations and the conduct of the event generally.

Among the Memorial’s list of champions is United States Presidents Cup team members Tiger Woods (1999, 2000, 2001, 2009, 2012), Matt Kuchar (2013), and Steve Stricker (2011), plus Nicklaus, who captained four U.S. teams in 1998, 2003, ’05 and ’07. In addition, three-time U.S. Team Captain Fred Couples won the Memorial Tournament in 1998. From the International Team, Ernie Els (2004) is the lone Memorial Tournament champion.

1987: Ryder Cup

Muirfield Village hosted the 27th Ryder Cup Sept. 25-27, and the course designed by captain Nicklaus had never played faster than it did that fall.  Such conditions appeared to favor the host Americans, but Europe was riding high after its decisive victory two years earlier at The Belfry, in England.

Most notable in Europe’s eventual 15-13 decision, its first on U.S. soil, was its domination leading up to singles.  The visitors built a five-point lead and then held off an American rally.  One of the key European singles wins was Eamonn Darcy’s 1-up defeat of Ben Crenshaw, who infrustration had broken his putter earlier in the round.  The late Seve Ballesteros, 2010 Memorial Tournament honoree, delivered the winning point with a 2-and-1 victory over Curtis Strange.

1998: Solheim Cup

Muirfield Village hosted the fifth Solheim Cup on Sept. 18-20, and the U.S. team retained the Cup, defeating Europe, 16-12.

Captained by Judy Rankin (also a member of the Captains Club of the Memorial Tournament), the U.S. squad jumped to a 3-1 lead in the first foursome session and went on to win the succeeding three sessions as well.  The Americans’ five-point lead heading into singles was too much for the Europeans to overcome.  Rankin credited the U.S. victory in part to advice she received from American players who had had success at Muirfield Village, including 1992 U.S. Amateur champion Justin Leonard.

2013: The Presidents Cup

With Jack Nicklaus looking on as the host, the heavily favored American team won the 10th Presidents Cup, though not without a good fight from the International squad.

Taking advantage of soft conditions from daily doses of rain, both teams racked up countless birdies, but the U.S. team won key holes, particularly in the more challenging Foursomes (alternate shot) format, and built a 14-8 lead heading into the singles matches. America needed just four points to win for the eighth time but those four points proved hard to come by. Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner won the first three points, and then Woods, the five-time Memorial winner, won the clinching point for the third straight time as the U.S. eventually retained the Cup 18 ½ to 15 ½.

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