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Irwin Returns to Site of Last Win

2006 SAS ChampionshipCARY, N.C. -- Hale Irwin is well aware that it has been a year since he won the SAS Championship for the last of his Champions Tour-record 44 victories.
'I haven't played very well this year,' the 61-year-old Irwin said Thursday. 'I can't point to any specific reason. I had a couple of chances in the spring and didn't (win). I've just limped along since then. At the end of last year I took a big breath and I don't think I ever got that breath back.'
Irwin has won at least once every season since joining the Champions Tour in 1995, including four times a year ago. But this season, Irwin's best finish has been a tie for second at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am at the end of February. He does have six top-10 finishes in 19 starts but only one since April.
'Am I anxious to kind of get the year ending in a good note? Certainly,' Irwin said. 'I don't feel like I am playing that badly. The difference between that badly and well and infinitely small.'
Irwin has four tournaments left including the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship to extend his string of seasons with a win to 12.
Meanwhile, Loren Roberts and Jay Haas have been the players to beat this season. Beginning Friday, they will be playing their first SAS Championship on the par-72, 7,177-yard course at Prestonwood Country Club.
'This is a very strategic golf course,' Roberts said. 'You have to pay attention to where you hit it off the tee.'
Roberts missed the last two tournaments to participate in the Ryder Cup as an assistant captain and to attend Byron Nelson's funeral, but plans to play in the remaining events. Haas is within 20 points of Roberts in the Schwab Cup race.
'I'm anxious to play here and the rest of the year,' Haas said. 'I've been playing well the last few weeks. I'll have to play well the rest of the year. Loren will be tough to catch. I don't expect him to back up.'
Roberts leads the tour with four wins, while Haas has won three times.
'This is definitely crunch time, Roberts said. 'Jay is playing well and has tightened it up. Anything can happen with four events left.'
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