‘Did he say stupid?’ Jason Day rips a Jack Nicklaus design — as Nicklaus watches
Jason Day complained about the restaurant.
Only chef Jack Nicklaus was listening.
It was awkward. It was funny. It was educational. It was all good theater on Friday during Golf Channel’s broadcast of the Memorial Tournament’s second round, after Jason Day dumped his tee shot on the 211-yard, par-3 16th at Muirfield Village Golf Club into a right greenside bunker.
From there, Day grabbed his tee. He started to walk back to his bag.
He said to no one in particular: “Stupid hole.”
Which Nicklaus designed, along with the other 17 holes at Muirfield Village.
Where the Memorial is played, and Nicklaus is the host.
And as the host, he occasionally sits in the broadcast booth during play.
Which he was doing Friday, when Golf Channel mics grabbed Day’s feelings.
“Did he say stupid hole?” Nicklaus asked, knowing full well the answer.
There was a short pause.
Then Nicklaus laughed.
“Can we kill the volume?” announcer Terry Gannon asked.
There was more laughter.
“No, I think he might be right,” Nicklaus said.
Well done, everybody. Let’s give some background here, though. Notably, Day is a member at Muirfield Village. And 16 is hard. Water protects the left side of the green. Two bunkers protect the right. The green slopes, though ahead of the 2021 Memorial, Nicklaus softened it some. This year, a new, farther back tee box is available. Actually, you may be better off listening to an authority on the subject.
“Well, 16’s just not a great hole in pretty much everyone’s opinion that’s playing today,” Jordan Spieth said Thursday. “So you’re just trying to get a ball, get a putter in your hand for two. It’s just — it’s 203 yards adjusted into the wind with a firm green that runs away from you on both sides and has one shelf that you can land it into.”
Turns out the chef heard that, too.
So on Friday, Nicklaus ate (literal) lunch with Spieth and Rory McIlroy. He took notes, too.
“These guys will all talk about the 16th hole,” Nicklaus said on the broadcast. “They talk about other places. I listen to that. When I have things on the golf course that I see guys struggle with, and I say, I don’t want them to struggle. I want them to play well. And I don’t want them to get hurt. So I listen to that stuff.
“I sat down today at lunch with Spieth and Rory. Jordan says, what a horrible hole — he said yesterday. Well, I listen to that. You know, maybe it is a horrible hole. So how am I going to make it better? My whole goal here is to have 18 of the best holes I could have that will be, as I said earlier, firm, fast and fair. Nobody will complain with that. But if it’s not fair and it’s too difficult, then they have a problem. As I say, I listen to that, I react to it, and no golf course is perfect. I mean, how many changes at Augusta National has it been? I mean, continual changes to make the golf course better. And we’ll continue to make changes to make the golf course better. I’m very open-minded about all that stuff. I’m trying not to hurt somebody. I want them to enjoy it, I want them to play well, but I want them to be rewarded for good golf.”
“Is there anything in particular you’re thinking about?” Gannon asked.
“Sixteen,” Nicklaus said, before laughing. “That horrible hole.”
Well done again.
He dropped his bunker shot on 16 to 4 feet and parred the hole.
“Hey, look, he parred that stupid hole,” Nicklaus said on the broadcast, before laughing again.
“You have a good memory, haven’t you?” analyst Frank Nobilo said — which earned this response from Nicklaus:
“I don’t forget.”