Irwin Outduels Kite for Record Win

By Sports NetworkOctober 12, 2003, 4:00 pm
KAHUKU, Hawaii -- Hale Irwin erased a three-shot deficit Sunday and outdueled overnight leader Tom Kite to win the Turtle Bay Championship. Irwin carded a 5-under 67 to finish the event at eight-under-par 208, two clear of Kite.
With the victory, Irwin becomes the first player in Champions Tour history to win the same event four consecutive seasons. He has now won this tournament five times, becoming the first player in Champions Tour history to accomplish that feat. He had been tied with Jack Nicklaus as the only four-time winners of one event.
Irwin joins Tiger Woods, who has won Bay Hill four consecutive times, Walter Hagen, who won the PGA Championship four times in a row, and Gene Sarazen, who won the Miami Open four consecutive times, as the only players to win the same event four straight times. Hagen and Sarazen accomplished their feats on the PGA Tour.
Irwin, playing one group ahead of Kite, birdied the first and third on the Palmer Course at the Turtle Bay Resort to move to 5-under. Kite, who closed with an even-par 72, bogeyed the third to drop into a tie for the lead with Irwin.
'It's been a wild week and with the weather we had he at the finish, you can't have rainbows without some rain,' said Irwin, who earns $225,000 for the win. 'It was highly competitive here at the end. I'll tell you, I was just a little bit nervous on that last hole, and the hole before, and the hole before that knowing Tom could reach the green in two.'
Irwin has battled back problems since June and even thought it could be career-threatening, but knew it just needed time to heel.
'With my back, it's been such a disappointment this summer, that I felt each week I was making a little progress,' said Irwin, who wins his Champions Tour best 38th title. 'I think last week we did not play and that really was helpful. Its been the first week I've played where my back did not give me a little bit if an issue.
'Initially yes, I thought it was career threatening. When you go to some of the specialists I go to and their diagnosis is this or that. But I always felt all along that if I rested it and did what I can do, and give it the time needed, that it will heel. Everyone agreed on that.'
Irwin grabbed the lead when he birdied the fourth. However, Kite fought back to tie him atop the leaderboard with a birdie at the sixth. Both men birdied the seventh to get to 7-under.
Kite dropped a shot back with a bogey on the ninth, but Irwin came back to him with a bogey in No. 11. Kite then birdied the 11th to take the lead back.
Kite again fell back into a share of the lead when he bogeyed the 13th. Irwin took control from there. He birdied the 14th to go up one shot as rain began to drench the course.
Irwin parred the 15th and 16th to remain one shot ahead of Kite, who parred the 14th and 15th. Kite tied him for the lead at the 16th when he ran home a long, breaking birdie putt.
Irwin was not fazed. He birdie the 17th to regain the lead. Kite parred the same hole. Irwin layed up on the par-five closing hole. He dropped his third shot on the green and two-putted for a closing par.
Kite, needing birdie to force a playoff, attempted to go for the green in two. His second shot came up short, hitting rocks just short of the green and dropping into the greenside pond.
He still had a chance at birdie if he could hole his approach from the fairway, but his fourth shot came to rest some 20 feet from the cup. Kite two- putted for bogey, but second place was still his alone, and the win was Irwins.
Graham Marsh, who made tournament history on Saturday when he aced the eighth hole for the first hole-in-one in tournament history on the Palmer Course at Turtle Bay, fired a 7-under 65 to move from a tie for 20th to third place. He was joined at 5-under-par 211 by Bruce Summerhays, who closed with a 66.
Rodger Davis finished alone in fifth place at 4-under-par 212. Morris Hatalsky, Rex Caldwell and D.A. Weibring ended one stroke further back at minus-three.
Jan Stephenson, playing on a sponsor's exemption, closed with a six-over 78. She tied for last place with Bobby Mitchell at 26-over-par 242.
Related Links:
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.