Wins Just Keep Coming for Ol Man Irwin
Word filtered over from Hawaii that he did it again the past weekend. He got the better of Tom Kite near the end of the Turtle Bay Championship, then just slammed the door. As Sunday evening was drawing to an end, here was Old Man Irwin, once again giving what must have become a very boring victory speech.
I say boring, because he has done it now 38 times on just the Champions (nee Senior) Tour. If he doesnt have it down pat by now, God didnt make little green apples. He started this winning on the Champions kinda slow, taking just two tournaments his first year in 1995, then just two more in 1996. But once he got the hang of it with nine victories in 1997, he opened the sluice gates. Win after win after win came spilling out, and the rest of the Champions Tour still hasnt figured out how to stop it.
Irwin himself will probably do it soon enough, anyway. He has the back of an 80-year-old man. When it is acting up, heaven help poor Hale. He spent most of the summer at its mercy, wheeling around the golf courses like a Chevy on three wheels. Most of the golfing public figured he was probably finished ' after all, the man was 58, for crying out loud! When he went down at the U.S. Open this summer with back spasms, carted out of the playing field with feet up, that appeared to be just about it for Irwin.
But ' here he is back again. And who knows when he will stop winning?
Irwin won the Kinkos Classic in Austin in May. The back started doing its thing in June. The last three tournaments he finished in a tie for 42nd, a tie for 21st and a tie for 38th. They were preparing the farewell dinner.
But then, Irwin jumps up and beats the field at the Turtle Bay event. How do you figure?
Simple, says Irwin. All it took was for the pain to subside. That, plus a little uncomfortable weather. The man who will forever be known for prevailing in the 1979 U.S. Open despite weather more fitting for seals than humans took charge this time in 20 mile per hour winds and squalling rains. If you can ever get this guy in weather where you wear short-sleeved shirts, youve got a chance. Any time you play in your rain suits, forget it. Irwin has a huge advantage in foul weather.
'This certainly helps smooth over some disappointment from this summer with my back, not being able to play at the level I hoped I'd play,' Irwin said. 'This is the first week I've not had some issues with my back so perhaps ... it's certainly not 100 percent, but I'm well on the way now. It could not have come at a better place or better time for me.'
His win at this event last year was his fourth of the season ' at age 57. Someday you assume hes got to slow down. But its not going to be in the foreseeable future.
He still belts the ball out there ' 273 yards on his drives. He is fifth on the tour in driving accuracy, third in greens hit in regulation. More importantly, he is fourth on the tour in scoring average ' despite his back-breaking summer.
Dont ever forget, though, that he was playing over the weekend in Hawaii. When he plays in Hawaii, he wins ' period.
He has gobbled up three Senior Skins in Hawaii, and that doesnt mean much except that it is with three pretty good players and they pay a lot of money. But he has won this event three other times in a row ' Sunday was his fourth in succession. He also won the Hawaiian Open and the MasterCard Championship.
It adds to $3.5 million for Hale in Hawaii. Most people go to Hawaii to SPEND money. Irwin goes to Hawaii and mines it.
'Fortunately I've been able to play well here, he says in aw-shucks fashion. I'm comfortable playing in the wind, comfortable here in Hawaii. I've had too much success to say different. I'm very glad.
If the other players would let me mail it in next year I'd still come.'
Theres not much chance of that happening. The others know that as long as Hale can swing a club, he is eminently capable of winning. Its not the age on the spine, its the size of the wallet on the hip.
Email your thoughts to George White
The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.
Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.
All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.
Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.
Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.
But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.
Back on TOUR. pic.twitter.com/OPmjaXFo1l— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 23, 2018
So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.
Speaking of greatness …
There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.
The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.
When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.
Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:
I was thinking we kick @JordanSpieth out and replace you with him... everybody wins! enjoyed yesterday man— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) January 22, 2018
Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.
Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.
This, according to Curtis Strange.
The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
@JonRahmpga and Andrew Landry.Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific, I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made a adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff.Not for me. A fan.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 23, 2018
Never went out of my way to disrupt. Having a chat wasn’t for me,my generation, or before me. Some inside baseball. Honesty.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 23, 2018
This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.
Damn millennials. They ruin everything.
By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.
Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.
Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.
Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.
But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.
The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.
Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.
Hit balls next to Kuchar yesterday and two very Matt Kuchar things happened; He didn’t miss a shot, and when he let out a fart he went, “oopsies.”— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) January 20, 2018
That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."
Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"
Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.
The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.
Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:
Many people have asked how to help Cory and his family during his time in Hawaii. We set up a GoFundMe page! Check it out and give! Thank you all for the prayers and support.https://t.co/4frdZN4vrQ— Blayne Barber™ (@BlayneBarberAU) January 22, 2018
Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite
Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.
Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.
And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.
Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.
Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.
Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.
Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel
‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host
Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced
Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.
Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.
“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.”
“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”
Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.
Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.