Originally created 06/02/06

Nicklaus creates Rakegate brouhaha



DUBLIN, Ohio -- Steve Flesch was one of the few players who had no issues with the bunkers at the Memorial, and for good reason. He wasn't in any of them Thursday, which might explain why he was atop the leaderboard.

Flesch made sure he kept his ball in the lush grass at Muirfield Village, playing his best golf of the year to reach 6-under par through 17 holes when the first round was suspended because of storms in the area. He was in the 18th fairway, typical of his day.

Sean O'Hair made double bogey from a bunker on No. 3, then responded with four birdies on his next six holes. He saved par the next time he was in the sand, birdied the 18th and finished with 67.

The large group at 69 included Masters Tournament champion Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and Nick Price.

Augusta's Vaughn Taylor is 2 under through 16 holes, and Augusta native Charles Howell is 1 over through 15.

Most of the players could do without the furrows left behind by the gap-tooth rakes being used as an experiment this week.

"I don't like it at all," Price said. "It's a bit of pot luck, to be honest. You can get in there and have a perfect lie when it lands on top of a groove, then you can have another one that goes in the trough, and you've got no chance."

Nicklaus, the course designer and tournament founder, decided late last week to snap off every other tine on the bunker rakes.

"I was trying to equalize the game," Nicklaus said during the ESPN telecast. "I think the game was about 80 percent shotmaking and 20 percent power when I played. Power has always been an advantage and always will be. But I don't like to see it 80 percent power and 20 percent shotmaking."