Ageless Irwin Still has Plenty of Fight Left

By George WhiteMay 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Senior PGA ChampionshipEDMOND, Okla. -- Ageless Hale Irwin ' he will be 61 next week, and yet he still is among the top players on the Champions Tour ' isnt merely getting older as the years go by. He says as the parade of players pass by, he is steadily improving. He wants to play with all of them, and with each, he picks up some little tidbit he can use in his own game.
I would to play against Loren (Roberts) or Jay (Haas) any day of the week, Irwin insists. I would love to play against Tiger any day of the week. It makes you a better player.
Hale Irwin is the all-time leader in Champions Tour titles.
I respect their games greatly ' I dont feel intimidated. Jack, Arnie ' anybody whos ever played the game. But am I afraid to play them? No. I welcome the opportunity, because it makes ME a better player.
This week Irwin is in Edmond, Okla., near Oklahoma City for his 42nd Champions Tour major ' the Senior PGA Championship. As a member of the regular tour from 1968 to 1994, he won three U.S. Opens. As a senior, hes won seven major championships. But hes won this tournament four times, the last time just two years ago, only a month shy of his 60th birthday.
And the secret may have been his enthusiastic willingness to play with the top players of the game. It never has mattered to him that he may look foolish trying to keep up. He thoroughly enjoys the difficult competition.
Thats what I did when I first started playing the tour, he said. I thought I knew how to play golf until I got out here. But woe is me, I didnt how to play golf.
But you learn by watching, and the occasional question. Certainly observation is the greatest tool going. I kept my eyes open, my ears open, and my mouth shut, trying to learn how to play.
His hair now is gray where it used to be brown. The hairline is slowly, ever so subtly, receding. But Irwin still revels in spying on the other players on the driving range. He observes intently when he is playing, trying to spot which each player does to make him successful.
I can go out and watch Loren putt and try to pick up something, he said. I can watch Jays rhythm and smoothness through the ball. There are things I can pick out of anybodys golf game that is very good, and try to emulate that.
I can go watch Tiger and say, Is there anything in his game that would make me a better player? Is there anything watching Phil Mickelson in a mirror that will make me a better player? I like to watch all the guys. Anybody that comes out, Im one of the first to go see how theyre hitting it, see what theyre doing.
Even at 60, even with all his experience, Irwin constantly is an observer. And when a newcomer has something that Irwin can use, Hale knows it immediately. For an old-timer who is still humble enough to learn, Irwin knows that there are lots of little things he can pick up by just observing. And by observing, he can tell who is going to be huge success before they ever hit a ball on the Champions Tour.
I predicted that Loren would be successful. Hes just got the right head for it. We play on greens that are very good for his stroke, he said.
He, Jay, and Im sure when Fred Funk comes out, a number of others coming right from the regular tour right on the Champions Tour ' theyre bringing with them all those assets which have made them good on the regular tour. And theyre not taking any time off, they coming right out and picking up right where they left off.
Irwin may not be of an age where he can hope to be the best player on the tour, but he isnt far from it. He led the tour with four victories and won just under $2 million. This year, though he hasnt broken through with a victory yet, he is fifth in money won. He is second on tour in greens in regulation, a better than average putter, and still long enough with the driver. The problem is, with a back that has been a problem for many years now, he finds himself often reduced to watching his fellow competitors hit instead of hitting himself.
But ' he has learned to get the utmost out of the time that he can practice.
I think I practice now much more with meaning, because I know I cant ' and probably shouldnt ' be out there for a very long period of time, says Irwin.
I used to stay out there (practicing) three times as long as I do now. But now I practice with a purpose. And I get a lot more done in the same amount of time.
Yes, somewhere, sometime, Hale will finally realize his time has come to watch fulltime from the sideline. It will probably be when his back tells him no more. But he says that time hasnt come yet ' not even a hint of it.
Somewhere along the line, he says, the years add up. I dont feel as though Ive reached that time yet. Jack or Arnold or Gary would probably tell you that the will to win is as strong as its ever been. But they would also have the realization that maybe their bodies are not what they used to be ' Jack certainly. That happens.
I dont think Im quite there. Hopefully I wont be for awhile.
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.