Irwin Wins on Bizarre Sunday

By Golf Channel NewsroomMay 11, 2003, 4:00 pm
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A whiff, a triple bogey and a playoff. What a way for Hale Irwin to win the inaugural Kinko's Classic.
 
Irwin recovered from a front-nine mental meltdown that included a ball tossed into a creek in anger and a whiff on a tap-in - reminiscent of his gaffe at the 1983 British Open - to win his first Champions Tour title of the season Sunday with a birdie on the second playoff hole over Tom Watson.
 
'Call it an airball,' Irwin said afterward, seemingly amazed that he won the tournament in such an unusual way. 'I would never have believed anything like this would happen. What a day.'
 
Watson was amazed, too.
 
'It's just stupid,' Watson said of his playing partner's bumble. 'If he can whiff it from inches out and still win the tournament, that shows he's the best on the tour.'
 
It was the 37th Champions Tour win for Irwin, who will be 58 next month. Last year Irwin, who won three U.S. Opens, became the oldest player on tour to win the money title.
 
Watson won the 1983 British Open, beating Irwin by a stroke. 'I guess he got me back today,' Watson said.
 
'The '83 British Open was another one that constituted an airball,' Irwin said. 'That one was just bad judgment. Today was just being upset.'
 
Irwin and Watson both shot 1-over 73 in the final round at The Hills Country Club on Sunday and finished at 8-under 208. They both birdied the 18th hole of regulation, snapping what had been a four-way tie with Tom Kite and Bob Gilder.
 
Irwin and Watson both parred No. 18 on the first playoff hole, but Watson nearly won it when his bunker shot for birdie lipped out. Then they headed back to the par-3 16th, the course's signature waterfall hole.
 
Watson's birdie attempt curled short about two inches out. Irwin then sank an 8-footer for the win.
 
'I thought I made my putt,' Watson said. 'It really banked right.'
 
It was the first Champions Tour event of the season to go to a playoff, and Irwin became the 11th different winner in 11 tour events this year.
 
Irwin could have won it in regulation if not for his four-hole collapse early in the round. He was tied with Kite at 10-under after two holes before a tee shot into a clump of pampas grass forced him to hit left-handed. He had a double bogey to fall two strokes back. It made him so mad he threw his ball into the greenside creek.
 
It got worse on No. 6 when Irwin whiffed a backhanded swipe at a six-inch tap-in. To make matters worse, he then stabbed at the ball again, only to top it about two inches. When he finally settled down and put it in the cup, the triple bogey knocked Irwin from one shot off the lead to four back.
 
Visibly angry, Irwin started tossing his clubs, groaning about his mis-hits. He was fading fast before a birdie on the 10th hole calmed him down.
 
'I hit a boiling point,' Irwin said. 'I got carried away ... It's not that I've got the yips. I just had to back off.'
 
Irwin was four strokes off the lead with five holes to play but got back in it with birdies on Nos. 14, 17 and 18 to catch Watson and force the playoff.
 
'I knew there would be a birdie in the group,' Irwin said of the final hole of regulation.
 
Kite, who played college golf at the University of Texas and still lives in the Austin area, had the hometown crowd behind him during all three rounds. But it couldn't carry him to his first professional win in his home state. He held a two-stroke lead with five holes to go but bogeyed 14 and 17 to drop into the four-way tie.
 
He continued his self-destruction on the final hole by spraying shots into the rough, behind a scoreboard and into a bunker on his way to a bogey, costing him a chance to make the playoff.
 
'I feel bad,' Kite said. 'I feel like I let the whole town down.'
 
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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


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    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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    Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – 

    Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

    Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

    ''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

    Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

    ''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

    Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


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    Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

    ''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

    Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

    ''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

    The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

    ''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

    Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

    ''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

    The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

    ''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

    He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

    Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

    ''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

    Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

    ''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.

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    Mickelson 'displeased' with iron play; 10 back

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:18 am

    All of Phil Mickelson’s offseason work on his driver has paid off through two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    His iron play? Not as sharp, and it’s the reason why he heads into the weekend 10 shots off the lead.

    “I’ve been pretty pleased, overall, with the way I’ve been driving the ball, and very displeased with the way my iron game has been,” said Mickelson, who shot 68 Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus course. He has hit only 21 of 36 greens so far this week. “Usually my iron play is a lot better than what it’s been. So I’ll go work on it and hopefully improve each round in this tournament and build a solid foundation for the upcoming West Coast events.


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    “I feel like if I continue to drive the ball the way I am, and if I got my iron play back to my normal standard, I should have the results that I’ve been expecting.”

    Mickelson, of course, is always bullish this time of year, but he has been able to find 10 of 14 fairways each of the past two rounds, including at narrower La Quinta Country Club, which doesn’t always fit his eye.

    “This is actually the best I’ve driven it in a lot of years,” he said.

    Currently in a tie for 67th, Mickelson will need a solid round on the more difficult Stadium course Saturday to ensure that he makes the 54-hole cut. He hasn’t missed a cut in his first West Coast event of the new year since 2009.