Muirfield the summer home this year for cicadas
DUBLIN, Ohio -- There's a buzz at the Memorial Tournament that cannot be ignored.
It isn't about tournament host, Jack Nicklaus, winding down his incomparable career. Not even the U.S. Open looming two weeks away can generated this much attention.
This is a real buzz -- a swarm of cicadas that has returned to Muirfield Village for the first time in 17 years, as big as Texas grasshoppers and almost loud enough to drown out the Ohio State marching band during opening ceremonies Wednesday.
"I thought we had some big bugs in Africa, but these things ..." Ernie Els said.
|“||I thought we had some bugs in Africa, but these things ... ”|
|— Ernie Els|
Joey Sindelar needed some debugging in Thursday's first round, and playing partner Vijay Singh came through.
While waiting to hit on the No. 4 tee, Sindelar felt something crawling around his neck.
His caddie, John Buchna, reached inside his shirt while standing on his tiptoes but couldn't find what was bugging Sindelar. Sindelar then took his shirttail out and tried to reach around behind himself for relief.
Finally Singh looked inside Sindelar's collar and grabbed a 4-inch long cicada.
They've bedeviled the players all week by making crash landings during putts, all the while making a buzzing noise that sounds like a typical practice day at the Indianapolis 500.
"Nobody could find it and it got under the tag in the back of the shirt," Sindelar said. "It's funny, you could press and it would squeak but it wouldn't come out."
As Singh pulled the cicada out, it flew away. The gallery responded with polite applause.
Kenny Perry was playing a pro-am round Tuesday when a cicada flew under his arm during his backswing and zoomed past his face.
"I kind of flinched and I hit it way left," he said. "They could actually play a role in this tournament."
Jay Haas is one of the few players in the field who were here in 1987 when the cicadas showed up. He was reminded of them during a practice round, when he looked across from the fifth tee and saw Singh on the third tee.
"He let go of the club because one hit him in the face on his down swing," Haas said.
These are called 17-year cicadas because that's how long they have been in the ground. They crawl out to mate and lay eggs in tree branches. That constant screeching sound is the mating call made by the males 24 hours a day. Along the tree-lined fairways of Muirfield Village, the noise sounds like a police sirens in the distance.
"We don't have bugs in Ireland," Padraig Harrington said. "It was interesting the very first day to hear the noise. We weren't quite sure what they were. I read about it in the paper, so I was kind of expecting it. I actually wanted to see my first one. Once I've seen a few, I've seen them all. That's enough."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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