Dont Bet Against the Number 60

By George WhiteMay 24, 2005, 4:00 pm
PGA of AmericaIts the week of the Senior PGA Championship, which Hale Irwin has become a master at winning. Irwin has won it four times, including last year, and tied for second two more times.
But Irwin is one week shy of his 60th birthday, the age when golfers are supposed to be all washed up. But Irwin says the 60th birthday is just another number. Why should it be any different than your 50th, or 54th or 57th?
Hale Irwin
Hale Irwin will try to win his 5th Senior PGA Championship trophy this week at Laurel Valley.
You have to love what youre doing, to start with, said Irwin. I love to go play and compete ' I love it. And thats at the core of any successful person ' they like to compete, I dont care what field theyre in.
For me now, its the guys sitting there saying, You cant do this. Well, why not? You tell me why not, Ill tell you why. And thats what it is ' its not to prove a point to anyone, I think it more or less continues pushing me to be intrigued about what I CAN do.
Irwin joins the rest of the Champions Tour in Ligonier, Pa. at the Laurel Valley Golf Club for the tours first major championship of the year. As they say, you cant win them all unless you win the first. But Irwin seriously doubts that anyone could win all of them ' in one year.
I dont know if you could ever sweep them, I dont care WHERE you are playing. Thats pretty difficult, he said.
In fact, its very difficult to win all of them in your career ' the Senior PGA, the U.S. Senior Open, the Ford Senior Players, the JELD-WEN Tradition, and now the British Senior Open. Irwin has won 42 times in his career, easily a Champions Tour record, but there are still a couple of majors he hasnt nabbed.
What I wanted to do was win them all, Irwin emphasized. And I havent done that.
I still have (to win) the Tradition. Ive had my chances there. And unless I play at the Senior British, which is a relatively new one now ' which I havent played yet ' that would be one of those goals that I would certainly love to do.
Tom Kite says that Irwin is always the man to beat when youre talking the Champions Tour. Hes the class of our tour. But Irwin has a balky back now, and it has manifested its bad side already this season.
After a sizzling start when he won two of the first four tournaments he played in and finished second and third in the other two, he hit a rocky patch. Over the next four tournaments, with the back continually stiffening up, Irwin could finish no better than 14th. He took three weeks off, played only nine holes in the down time, and came back last week to finish tied for sixth at the Brunos Memorial Classic.
But Irwin himself isnt picking just one favorite this week. Hes picking several strong candidates.
I think Tom Watson, Craig Stadler - lets not fail to mention Dana Quigley, he said. Right now, the best player out here is Dana Quigley. In the long run, will Dana be the one to beat? I dont know, he certainly could be ' he has that capacity.
I think Tom (Kite) could do it. And Craig ' Craig just keeps on being the Walrus. And thats tremendous. Hes a formidable player. If Jay comes out ' and Peter Jacobsen, all those guys have tremendous potential.
I dont think you can count out five or six other guys. But ' if you had to pick one, Craig is the guy to look at, simply because he seems to be playing with more confidence than Ive seen him play in a long time.
And Irwin? Despite being nearly 60, there are a lot of prognosticators who are picking him.
Well, I look at it as a compliment, he said. I dont worry about what Im perceived of in that vein, because I know I can play. I know I can compete. And yet at the same time, I hopefully will show the respect that the other players deserve.
He says the time is coming, though, somewhere up ahead, when he wont be a favorite. He hasnt really thought about it yet. But he knows without question that its out there.
Lets face it ' there is a matter of time and how much longer I can play, and how much longer do I WANT to play, Irwin said. Theres two considerations ' theres a part of me that says, Yeah, Id love to play, I love the competition. Theres another part of me thats ready to give some other endeavors a little time now. Things that arent necessarily more physically challenging, but more mentally challenging.
But you never can put aside the desires you still have to play and compete.
Related Links:
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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."