Irwin Wins 4th Senior PGA Title

By Sports NetworkMay 31, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Senior PGA Championship LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- After five days and countless hours of weather delays, Hale Irwin two-putted for birdie on the 72nd hole Monday to win the 65th Senior PGA Championship by one stoke over Jay Haas.
Irwin closed with an even-par round of 71 to end the event at 8-under-par 276. Haas, making his Champions Tour debut, posted a 1-under 70 to end at minus-7.
'Winning this tournament is one of those dream things,' said Irwin, who collected $360,000 for the win. 'You lay awake at night, like I did last night, kind of thinking about it.'
The Monday finish was caused by rain that delayed the tournament each of the five days action was contested. That forced the first Monday finish of this event since the 2000 playing at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. When play resumed Monday, players battled winds that blew in excess of 25 miles per hour.
Craig Stadler, who hit a poor second shot to the par-5 18th, pitched in for eagle to close a round of 2-under 69 and end the event in third place at 5-under-par 279.
Canadian Dave Barr, Englishman Mark James and 2001 Senior PGA Championship winner Tom Watson shared fourth place at 2-under-par 282. Mark McNulty and Gil Morgan ended one stroke further back at minus-1.
The final round duel between Irwin, the Champions Tour's all-time wins leader now with 40, and Haas, playing in his first Champions event, was tight throughout. Haas never led, while Irwin's biggest cushion was two strokes and they were twice tied.
Irwin bogeyed the first hole on Sunday afternoon before play was suspended for the night. When they returned to the course on Monday, Haas faltered to his only bogey of the round at the third to fall to minus-5, two behind Irwin.
The 58-year-old Irwin parred his first three holes on Monday before draining a birdie at the fifth. That gave him a two-stroke lead over Barr and Watson. Irwin ran off four straight pars to head to the back nine up by two shots.
Irwin, who won this event three straight years from 1996 to 1998, matched Haas' birdie at the par-5 10th. Things went downhill though for Irwin.
He bogeyed the 11th to fall to minus-8. Irwin's tee shot off the 12th tee found the right rough and he was forced to lay-up. He pitched his third onto the green, but was unable to make the par saving putt. That dropped him to minus-7, where Haas joined him in the lead.
At the very next hole, Irwin got a favorable ruling. His tee shot ended on the edge of the first cut of rough, but an official ruled he could take advantage of the lift, clean and place rules that were in affect saying his ball was touching the fairway.
Irwin cleaned his ball then dropped his second shot within eight feet and he drained that birdie to retake the lead. Over the next three holes, Irwin two- putted for par on each to maintain his lead.
The 1998 and 2000 U.S. Senior Open champion dropped his second shot to the par-4 17th in a greenside bunker. Irwin blasted his third onto the green, but could not sink the 12-foot par putt.
Heading to the final hole with Haas playing in the group ahead of him, Irwin found the fairway off the tee. He watched from the fairway as Haas, who has never won a major, two-putted for par.
Irwin, needing birdie to win, knocked his second shot on the green. Despite having a difficult putt over a slope, Irwin's eagle try came up just short and right of the cup. He calmly tapped in his birdie putt for the win.
'I can't say I was happy with what I was looking at,' said Irwin of his eagle putt. 'Fortunately, I read it well. I'm proud, I'm relieved and I'm glad it's over. It's been an awkward week for everyone.'
Irwin now has won at least two Champions Tour events in each of the last 10 years. He also claimed his seventh Champions Tour major.
Haas, who will return to the PGA Tour for The Memorial later this week, parred the final eight holes. In doing so, he became the only player to complete the final nine holes of the event without a bogey.
'That's disappointing that I didn't get that done,' said Haas, who owns nine PGA Tour wins. 'I just hit a very poor putt, probably one of the worst shots I hit all day. I had as good an opportunity as I'm going to have.'
John Harris struggled to a 5-over 76 to finish the tournament at even-par 284. It was his first career top-10 finish on the Champions Tour in 32 events.
Wayne Levi, Jerry Pate and Raymond Floyd shared 10th place at 1-over-par 285. Allen Doyle, the 1999 Senior PGA Champion, was one stroke further back at plus-2. He was joined there by Andy Bean, Tom Jenkins and R.W. Eaks.
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    Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

    Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

    That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

    Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

    From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

    Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

    She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

    She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

    “Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

    Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

    With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

    The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

    She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

    The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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    One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

    Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

    Log on to to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

    Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

    Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

    Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

    Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

    Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

    David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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    Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

    Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

    As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

    Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.