Ol Man River Still Rolling
Hale Irwin ' that is, 60-YEAR-OLD Hale Irwin ' spent last week doing the same things he did as a 25-year-old. He got up, went through a couple hours of golf tournament preparation, went out and walked a rugged Pebble Beach layout, spent four hours each day formulating strategy ' and won a golf tournament. No, he didnt rely on a golf cart. No, he didnt forget his socks. And no, he didnt even think about needing a cane.
Irwin won for the third time this year. But the other two came while he was only 59. He was 60 in June. To think that a 60-year-old could still be winning at this kind of a clip is ' well, just incredible.
For a decade, he has stared down the best that Champions Tour golf could offer, and whipped them all. He started out in the era of Lee Trevino, Ray Floyd and Jack Nicklaus, and he beat them. He faced Tom Kite and Tom Watson, and he beat them. Now hes facing Craig Stadler Loren Roberts, Peter Jacobsen, Bruce Lietzke ' and he beat them. And when Tiger Woods turns 50, want to bet that Irwin will still be grinding em out?
Those 43 wins are far more the No. 2 man ' Trevino with 29. And to think that Irwin the past three years has been struggling with a tricky back that occasionally goes out for months at a time.
That means, of course, that his practice time is severely limited - sprinkled in among his three victories are a T-52, T-46, a T-42, a T-26 and a couple of 25s. But when his back lets him play, he has repeatedly shown why he is one of the best elder athletes on the planet.
'I think it's because of my athleticism that I'm able to compete with these younger guys,' Irwin said. '... I relish the challenge. I challenge myself to go out at 60 and play the same golf I did at 50.'
AND ' he still isnt in the maximum physical condition that he expects to be in next year. 'I've gotten away from my conditioning because of my back, but I've got to get back to that this winter,' Irwin said.
The guys who were contesting him at last weeks tournament were awestruck at what they had just witnessed. Stadler, for one, couldnt quite fathom it. 'I don't think it matters how old he is, he said, because he keeps playing the same every week. He's a very good athlete with a great mind-set and a great game. That's a nice combo.'
Irwin, like Old Man River, just keeps on rolling. He won twice last year, twice in 2003 since the back problems really hit him. Before that, he was a four-time winner as late as his 57th year in 2002.
And he keeps testing whether he still can do it ' win against the men who are sometimes nine or 10 year younger . And the answer is still, Yes.
'I'd be telling a tall one if I said I wasn't nervous down the stretch,' said Irwin. 'The win only confirms to me that I still can play, that I have what it takes to compete at this level.
'I think experience helped out there,' Irwin said. 'I tried really hard not to get too distraught or too caught up in the moment.'
But, even 60-year-olds get excited. Sixty-year-olds still sweat a little under the heat of contending. That has never, ever changed for Irwin.
Oh, yeah, he said. If you don't feel some anxiety, if you don't feel some pressure, if you don't get excited about the moment, then why are you here? When I don't feel that, you'll see me driving down the road and I won't come back. That's certainly part of why I do what I do, because I enjoy that competitive moment.
I like going up against Greg Norman. I like going up against Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. I wish Tiger Woods was here. I think we'd all play better. I enjoy that.
He still gets the nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach, and thats something that has never gone away, not in 40 years of playing.
Let's put it this way, Irwin said: I'm not as nervous on the first tee on Thursday as I used to be, but I'm probably, if I'm in contention, as anxious on the first tee on Sunday (as) I was in the past. It just takes a little longer to get the engine wound up to get there. But it's still there.
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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
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.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
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
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
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.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
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.