Calf Injury Has Slowed Irwin This Year

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Hale Irwin has made $82,334 this year for every week he has teed it up in a Senior Tour tournament. Allen Doyle is the Senior Tours top money-winner, but he makes only $76,400 every week he plays.
 
The difference is, Doyle has made his loot in 33 events. Irwin has participated in just 25. That makes Doyle a winner of $2,520,582, about $500,000 more for the year than Irwins $2,058,444.
 
Thats eight weeks difference in play, said Irwin, who is highly laudatory of Doyles play this year. Eight weeks is just a little too much to overcome when youre talking about a player of Allens caliber.
 
Irwin trails both Doyle and Bruce Fleisher in the money race this year. You cant talk about Irwins year with talking about his problem ' dont call it an injury. You can call it an ailment, but its not really an injury, he said.
 
The ailment occurred sometime in the spring, Irwin isnt really sure of the exact date. But it was a muscle pull in his left calf and inhibited his swing turn. He lost the natural suppleness in his swing, getting very stiff in the right side at the moment of contact. He tried to play through it, but got very handsy because of the stiffness. By the time he became aware of the pulled muscle, the season was nearly over.
 
I spent 3-4 months just treading water, Irwin said. I may have gone a little backwards. But its just a little nagging injury that I had to get straightened out.
 
Irwin won a whopping nine times in 1997, seven times in 1998. But lately he has become more and more involved in his golf course architecture business. He is not going to increase his playing schedule just to try to win the money title.
 
Twenty-five, 26 tournaments is the maximum for me, he said. Im involved in a lot of other things besides just playing golf. I just dont want to be involved any more than that. Im just not going to do it.
 
This week at the Senior Tour Championship at Gaillardia in Oklahoma City, Irwin plays No. 26. Actually, the 26 is Irwins maximum number. He played in only 23 events his first two full years, 1996 and 97. The figure dropped to 22 the next year, then was 26 in 1999. Last year, he played in only 24 tournaments.

He concedes that some of the tournaments hes played in, he had his mind in two different places. He played in Hawaii in September, took a red-eyed flight Sunday night to Mazatlan, Mexico, to check on business, then hurried over to Napa, Cal., on Wednesday to tee it up for another tournament.
 
He plans a long vacation this winter before the start of the 2002 season. Im going to play in the UBS Warburg Cup and the Father-Son tournament, he said.
 
Of course, the Father-Son thing isnt really work at all. Dont tell anybody, but Id play in that for free. That is just a fun week.
 
He owns the Senior Tour win record, which is at 32 and holding. It certainly will grow more for the 56-year-old Irwin.
 
Im really proud of that 32 wins, said Irwin. Someone will come along and break it, Im sure. But I dont intend to stop at 32.