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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Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid
Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.
Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.
Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.
World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.
Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.
Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain
The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.
Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.
"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."
Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.
Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.
Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.
Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.
Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.
Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.
LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match
The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.
LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:
Who ya got in H.O.R.S.E. between @TigerWoods & his caddy Joe LaCava??? We've got some inside info from LaCava himself and we're taking Joey @CarlPaulsonGolf @dennispaulson62 pic.twitter.com/9l6NSoxQre— Inside the Ropes (@SiriusXMITR) December 14, 2017
"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."
It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.
"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."