This year is different. Irwin won four times, the most on the elder circuit. Dana Quigley captured two victories and the money title. Tom Watson won another major, the Senior British Open, and with a win at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, walked off with the $1 million annuity.
So who gets the honor?
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Quigley tied for fifth place at the Ford Senior Players Championship and shared ninth at the U.S. Senior Open. That would be a good year in the majors by itself, but it was his play in the other two that gave him the nod.
At the Senior PGA Championship, Quigley, Jerry Pate and Mike Reid headed to the 18th hole for a playoff. Reid holed a birdie putt on the first playoff hole to hoist the hardware, but Quigley was very much in the hunt.
The final major of the year, the JELD-WEN Tradition, came down to another extra session, this time between Quigley and Champions Tour rookie, Loren Roberts. Quigley struggled on the second playoff hole and Roberts only needed a bogey to win the title.
Despite failing to win one of the five major titles, Quigley's four top-10s and two playoff losses stand as the best major championship record.
One would think that two playoff losses would hurt his record in sudden death, but that was not the case in 2005. He captured the season-opening MasterCard Championship when he topped Watson in a playoff. A few months later, Quigley once again beat Watson and Gil Morgan in extra holes at the Bayer Advantage Classic.
All totaled, Quigley collected two wins, five runners-up and 15 top-10s in 22 starts. Only four times in his 22 starts did Quigley miss the top 30.
Since he plays every week (well...all but one), Quigley was certainly going to be a factor in the money title race. He finally won that honor with $2,170,258, but had his sights set on another title.
Quigley led the year-long Charles Schwab Cup points race for 17 weeks heading into the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup. Watson won that title, and thanks to points being tripled, captured the $1 million annuity right from under Quigley's nose.
Either way, Quigley had the consistently strongest season of anyone on tour. Did he win the most? No. Did he get a tax-free $1 million? No. But neither Irwin, nor Watson could boast as complete a season as Quigley in 2005.
TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR
The Senior PGA Championship. Let's pick up the action at the 72nd hole on Sunday.
Jerry Pate, the 1976 U.S. Open champion who was, and remains, winless on the Champions Tour, held the lead at the par-5 closing hole at Laurel Valley Golf Club.
Pate was one clear of Quigley, who was in the clubhouse, and three ahead of playing partner, Mike Reid, a journeyman best known at that point for amazing fairway accuracy and coughing up the 1989 PGA Championship to Payne Stewart.
Reid hit his second to 25 feet at the last, then Pate made the most puzzling decision of the season. He had 190 yards to the flag, but on the advice of his caddy, decided to lay up short of the water. Pate's third landed 30 feet past the flag and his birdie putt stopped three feet short of the cup.
Reid drained his eagle putt to match Quigley at 8 under par. Pate's par putt for the victory missed right and off to a playoff we go.
Pate must have been still rattled because he hooked his tee shot into the woods at 18, the first playoff hole. He had to lay up with his second, while Quigley and Reid both found the short grass off the tee.
Reid hit his second to 25 feet again at 18, but Quigley had to get out the scuba gear because his approach landed in the water. Pate knocked his third to 7 feet.
When Reid lagged his eagle try to tap-in range and converted the short birdie putt, Quigley was headed back to the clubhouse. Pate needed to make his 7-footer. He did not and Reid, three down on the last tee in regulation, picked up his first Champions Tour major.
SHOT OF THE YEAR
Tom Watson's 25-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
The birdie putt was the margin of difference between Watson and Jay Haas in the tournament. The win gave Watson triple points in the year-long Charles Schwab Cup points race. The triple points vaulted Watson past Quigley for the title. The title gave Watson a $1 million annuity.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
This race came down to quantity versus quality. Jay Haas, who despite playing on the tour last season, was still considered a rookie, won twice at the end of the year.
Loren Roberts, who will serve as one of Tom Lehman's assistants at next year's Ryder Cup, won only once on the 50-and-over circuit, but it was a biggie. Roberts captured the JELD-WEN Tradition, a major, and had an awesome record in the three majors he played on the Champions Tour.
He took fifth at the Senior British Open, tied for second at the U.S. Senior Open and won The Tradition. Haas played in every major but the Senior British and missed the cut at the Senior PGA Championship. His best finish in the other three - a tie for 18th at the Senior Players Championship.
That means Roberts played better when it counted and that's enough.
Hale Irwin - Four wins and at the age of 60. In the hunt for Player of the Year, but ultimately Quigley was more impressive. Showing little signs of letdown.
Mark McNulty - Two wins, third on the money list and third on the Charles Schwab Cup. Consistently one of the top-5 players on this circuit.
Des Smyth - Two wins in 2005 and typifies one of the strongest types of Champions Tour player. Strong, though not spectacular his whole career on some other tour beside the PGA Tour, than really solid on the Champions Tour.
Morris Hatalsky - Although winless, he still finished eighth on the money list. That was second to Gil Morgan for most earned without a trip to the winner's circle. Led the tour in putting and for a two-time former winner, proved to be a consistent threat.
Greg Norman - Played only twice to various ailments and a lack of interest, but took a third and a fourth in two majors. Won't play much, but will be a factor when he realizes how competitive the Champions Tour is.
Craig Stadler - Posted 14 top-10s, came in third in scoring average and finished ninth on the money list. But how can a man who won six times last year, fail to break through in 2005?
Tom Kite - Speaking of winless, anyone notice Kite did not pick up a trophy all year?
Jerry Pate - Earned his spot on this list for that horrid decision at the Senior PGA Championship. He's been close since joining the tour, but has yet to win.
Fuzzy Zoeller, Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw and Lanny Wadkins - This quartet of PGA Tour stars from the 80s is done. Look for them on VH1's 'I Love the 80s, Part 11' soon.