Irwin Needs to See Putts Falling


2005 WalMart First Tee OpenThe Champions Tour returns to a legendary course this week when the seniors compete at Pebble Beach. And its a particularly joyful return for Hale Irwin, who won this event ' the Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach - in 2005.
Hale Irwin
Hale Irwin's win at Pebble Beach last year was the 43rd of his senior career.
Irwin won last year as a 60-year-old ' the first 60-year-old to triumph since J.C. Snead did it is 2002. The most successful Champions Tour player of all time, Irwin won his 43rd tournament of his senior career en route to a final total of 44. In fact, he won a total of four times last season.
This year, its been a different story. He doesnt have a win yet. His faulty back has limited the amount of time he can practice, and particularly the amount of time he can stand on the putting green. That, he said, is the reason for his sub-par play.
Poor putting. Just put it in two words - poor putting, Irwin said.
He realizes that he well may not have a multiple-win season again, not with the influx of impressive young 50-year-olds which are coming aboard.
Well, as you're seeing, the players of the likes of Loren Roberts and Jay Haas and Peter Jacobsen, those guys that have come out over the last couple of years, they're bringing not only their persona with them, great personalities. And, they're bringing very strong playing credentials. And we're going to see more of those players over the next several years.
Just like anything else, there's been a semi-evolution, if you wish, in the quality of play that it takes to win out here. Each new class seems to produce a player that pushes the envelope. This year it's been Loren and Jay who have really taken the lead. In the past it was, of course there was myself and Gil Morgan, and there have always been players that do that.
And I think that what we're seeing now is, it's not the fact that I don't feel like I can't compete, it's just that there are more players that are playing at least equally well. And if you want to keep up at that pace, you have to match them shot for shot. And that's - I feel I'm doing that, with the exception of my putting.
But, dont put this old warhorse out to pasture yet. Irwin feels he still may spring few surprises.
Do I still feel capable of winning? Absolutely! he said. But to do that I need to change. I just don't need to change the complete direction of my game. I just need to get a few putts in, rather than a few putts hanging.
'And, my goodness, we can go two shots a day, one shot per nine, at the end of the week that's a huge difference. And that's all I'm looking for.
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