Hale Irwin was the champion of champions on the Champions Tour in 2002. At the age of 57, he won four times (tied with Bob Gilder for most on tour) and became the first man in tour history to surpass the $3 million mark in a single season.
While no one could match Irwins Player of the Year campaign, Tom Watson and Tom Kite came the closest in trying to match him in terms of statistical dominance.
Kite led the tour in two categories: greens in regulation and all-around. Not surprisingly ' he finished runner-up in five events this season ' Watson was second in four different areas: scoring, greens in regulation, eagles per hole and all around.
But, of course, Irwin was slightly better than both. He was tops in scoring average, putting and birdies per round. Overall, he finished inside the top five in six of the 10 monitored stations.
Despite his advanced age, Irwin is showing no signs of slipping. His best year on tour came in 1997, when he won nine times. Five years later, his statistical numbers were much the same.
1997 ' 68.92 (1)
2002 ' 68.93 (1)
1997 ' 1.734 (1)
2002 ' 1.717 (1)
Greens in Regulation
1997 ' 76.2% (1)
2002 ' 72.2% (9)
1997 ' 266.1 (25)
2002 ' 269.6 (39)
1997 ' 76.5% (7)
2002 ' 80.3% (5)
1997 ' 82 (2)
2002 ' 120 (T2)
The season wasnt all about Irwin, however.
In other numbers, Tom Jenkins became the first player since Joe Inman in 2000 to record a bogey-free event. Jenkins didnt drop a shot at this years Toshiba Senior Classic, yet finished tied for 10th.
Bruce Fleisher reeled off 27 straight rounds of par or better this year, the longest such streak this season on tour. He also held the record last year with 24.
R.W. Eaks made an impact in his first-ever season on the 50-and-over circuit. He led the tour in driving distance with an average of 295.1 yards-per-drive, shattering the old mark of 290.7 (set by John Jacobs in 1997).
Jacobs had the longest drive of the season, a 372-yard blast during the Farmers Charity Classic. His opening tee shot in the final round of that event a year ago traveled an amazing 403 yards.
Even more impressively, Lee Trevino hit 70 consecutive fairways over a span of three tournaments.
Finally, Dana Quigley once again played in every tournament the tour had to offer this season. He extended his record of consecutive events played to 187. Mike McCullough and Walter Hall also played in all 35 events in 2002.