Green Downs Irwin in Extra Holes
'Playing Hale in a playoff isn't the first guy you want to choose,' said Green, who matched 68s with Irwin in the final round to finish regulation tied at 14-under 199.
But the truth is Irwin, the 50-and-over circuit's all-time win leader with 34 career titles, came into the week winless in four tries in playoffs. Although he was able to exchange pars with Green over the first six holes of sudden death, Irwin missed the green at playoff hole No. 7 then failed to hole his chip to extend the extra session.
'I don't mind playoffs, I'm just not having much success in them,' said Irwin, whose overtime record dropped to 0-5.
The Long Island Classic was the third straight event to end in a playoff - a first on the Senior Tour. Bob Gilder won last week's FleetBoston Classic by beating John Mahaffey on the third extra hole. The week before, Gilder got the better of Irwin in a one-hole playoff at the SBC Senior Open.
Irwin, who averaged over 30 putts per round this week, missed a 15-foot birdie to win on the first playoff hole - the 167-yard, par-three 18th - a hole he and Green would play four times on Sunday.
Both players made mediocre approaches en route to pars at the 12th and 13th, the second and third extra holes. Green had a good chance to end things on the fourth - back at 18 - but pushed his seven-foot birdie attempt right of the hole.
Irwin seemed to have the advantage at the fifth hole of sudden death when Green's shot to the 12th green rolled into a bunker. Green, faced with a long shot from the sand, blasted out to three feet and saved par. Irwin then grazed the right edge of the cup with his birdie effort from 18 feet.
After they traded their sixth straight pars of the playoff on the 13th, Irwin and Green headed back to the 18th tee. While Green's tee shot landed on the back of the green, 25 feet from the hole, Irwin's ball flew left toward a bunker but got caught up in a nice lie just off the putting surface.
Irwin's lucky break was negated when Green carefully rolled his long birdie putt into the heart of the hole. Irwin managed a smile then tipped his cap toward his competitor, and a moment later lost when he missed his chip.
'Hubert played very well today,' said Irwin, who has seven top-two finishes this year, including a pair of victories. 'He hit a lot of good shots and kept his composure.'
Green collected $255,000 for his first win since the 2000 Kroger Senior Classic.
Irwin compiled a 4-5 playoff record while on the PGA Tour. His last overtime win was a big one; he beat Mike Donald on the 19th hole of a scheduled 18-hole playoff to win his third U.S. Open title at Medinah in 1990.
Green, who won the 1977 U.S. Open and the 1985 PGA Championship during his 19-win PGA Tour career, trailed Irwin by two shots with three holes to play in regulation Sunday.
At the 16th, Irwin hit his approach to five feet but missed the subsequent birdie try. Then Green, who stuffed his shot to half the distance on the same hole, sank his short birdie to trim the margin to a single stroke.
Irwin made only his second bogey of the week after he found a greenside bunker with his third shot to the par-5 17th. He couldn't convert the up-and-down out of the sand and dropped into a tie for the lead with Green at 14-under.
'That was a mental lapse. I just didn't hit it hard enough,' Irwin said of third at 17. 'It just wasn't meant to be today.'
Allen Doyle, a runner-up here in 1999 and 2001, turned in a 5-under 66 - the co-low round of the day at the par-71 Meadow Brook Club. He tied for third at 11-under with Morris Hatalsky (70), who began Sunday's round one shot back of co-leaders Green and Irwin.
Bruce Fleisher, the Long Island Classic champion in 1999 and 2000, closed with a 70 for solo fifth at 10-under 203.
Bobby Wadkins, who became the youngest player to win on the Senior Tour when he captured last year's title at the age of 50 years and 10 days, tied for 15th at minus-six.
After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...
Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner
On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...
Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.
After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.
Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.
A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray
Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call
PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.
At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.
“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”
Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.
Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.
Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.
“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park
PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.
Laura Davies won the day.
It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.
Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.
Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.
For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.
In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.
“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”
At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.
“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”
Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.
“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.
With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.
“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”
Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.
“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”
She also relished showing certain fans something.
“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.
In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.
Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.
“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.
After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.
“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”
Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.
In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.
“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”
And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.
Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill
ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.
The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?
“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”
And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.
After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.
“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”