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:
  • Full-field scores from the Turtle Bay Championship
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “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.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”