Dont Bet Against the Number 60

By George WhiteMay 24, 2005, 4:00 pm
PGA of AmericaIts the week of the Senior PGA Championship, which Hale Irwin has become a master at winning. Irwin has won it four times, including last year, and tied for second two more times.
But Irwin is one week shy of his 60th birthday, the age when golfers are supposed to be all washed up. But Irwin says the 60th birthday is just another number. Why should it be any different than your 50th, or 54th or 57th?
Hale Irwin
Hale Irwin will try to win his 5th Senior PGA Championship trophy this week at Laurel Valley.
You have to love what youre doing, to start with, said Irwin. I love to go play and compete ' I love it. And thats at the core of any successful person ' they like to compete, I dont care what field theyre in.
For me now, its the guys sitting there saying, You cant do this. Well, why not? You tell me why not, Ill tell you why. And thats what it is ' its not to prove a point to anyone, I think it more or less continues pushing me to be intrigued about what I CAN do.
Irwin joins the rest of the Champions Tour in Ligonier, Pa. at the Laurel Valley Golf Club for the tours first major championship of the year. As they say, you cant win them all unless you win the first. But Irwin seriously doubts that anyone could win all of them ' in one year.
I dont know if you could ever sweep them, I dont care WHERE you are playing. Thats pretty difficult, he said.
In fact, its very difficult to win all of them in your career ' the Senior PGA, the U.S. Senior Open, the Ford Senior Players, the JELD-WEN Tradition, and now the British Senior Open. Irwin has won 42 times in his career, easily a Champions Tour record, but there are still a couple of majors he hasnt nabbed.
What I wanted to do was win them all, Irwin emphasized. And I havent done that.
I still have (to win) the Tradition. Ive had my chances there. And unless I play at the Senior British, which is a relatively new one now ' which I havent played yet ' that would be one of those goals that I would certainly love to do.
Tom Kite says that Irwin is always the man to beat when youre talking the Champions Tour. Hes the class of our tour. But Irwin has a balky back now, and it has manifested its bad side already this season.
After a sizzling start when he won two of the first four tournaments he played in and finished second and third in the other two, he hit a rocky patch. Over the next four tournaments, with the back continually stiffening up, Irwin could finish no better than 14th. He took three weeks off, played only nine holes in the down time, and came back last week to finish tied for sixth at the Brunos Memorial Classic.
But Irwin himself isnt picking just one favorite this week. Hes picking several strong candidates.
I think Tom Watson, Craig Stadler - lets not fail to mention Dana Quigley, he said. Right now, the best player out here is Dana Quigley. In the long run, will Dana be the one to beat? I dont know, he certainly could be ' he has that capacity.
I think Tom (Kite) could do it. And Craig ' Craig just keeps on being the Walrus. And thats tremendous. Hes a formidable player. If Jay comes out ' and Peter Jacobsen, all those guys have tremendous potential.
I dont think you can count out five or six other guys. But ' if you had to pick one, Craig is the guy to look at, simply because he seems to be playing with more confidence than Ive seen him play in a long time.
And Irwin? Despite being nearly 60, there are a lot of prognosticators who are picking him.
Well, I look at it as a compliment, he said. I dont worry about what Im perceived of in that vein, because I know I can play. I know I can compete. And yet at the same time, I hopefully will show the respect that the other players deserve.
He says the time is coming, though, somewhere up ahead, when he wont be a favorite. He hasnt really thought about it yet. But he knows without question that its out there.
Lets face it ' there is a matter of time and how much longer I can play, and how much longer do I WANT to play, Irwin said. Theres two considerations ' theres a part of me that says, Yeah, Id love to play, I love the competition. Theres another part of me thats ready to give some other endeavors a little time now. Things that arent necessarily more physically challenging, but more mentally challenging.
But you never can put aside the desires you still have to play and compete.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Senior PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    Molinari reflects on beating Woods at Ryder Cup, Open

    By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 9:11 am

    SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Francesco Molinari might be a useful resource for the European Ryder Cup team.

    He’s already beaten Tiger Woods, head to head, at a Ryder Cup and a major.

    Molinari was in the anchor match at the 2012 Ryder Cup when Woods conceded on the final hole to give the Europeans an outright victory in the incredible comeback at Medinah. He said the last hole was a “blur,” and it remains the last Ryder Cup that both Molinari and Woods played.

    “I’ve improved a lot as a player since 2012,” said Molinari, who lost his previous singles match against Woods in 2010, 4 and 3, “and I hope to show that on the course this week.”

    The proof is the claret jug that he now keeps at home.

    Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    To win his first major he needed to not only endure the circus that a Woods group brings, but he needed to outlast the 14-time major champion and a host of other worthy contenders to prevail at Carnoustie.

    Reflecting on that momentous day Tuesday, Molinari said he initially was dreading the final-round date with Woods.

    “If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t exactly hoping to be paired with Tiger, not because I don’t like to play with him, but because, obviously, the hype and with him being in contention in a major, it’s going to be noisy and it’s going to be a lot of people," he said. 

    “So the most challenging part was probably that moment when the draw came out, but then I quickly managed to think, You know, whatever. I don’t really care. I’m here to do a job, and they can’t really influence how I do my job.”  

    To thrive in that situation gave Molinari a lot of confidence – especially heading into a pressure-cooker like the Ryder Cup.

    Asked whether it’s more pressure trying to win a major or a Ryder Cup – since he’s now done both – Molinari said: “You won’t believe me, but it’s nowhere near. Carnoustie was nowhere near Medinah or in any matching ways. It’s hard to believe, but it’s probably because you play for a team; you play for a continent in our case, and you know about the tradition and what players have done in the past.”

    Getty Images

    Woods 25/1 to break Nicklaus' record by age 50

    By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 9:05 am

    With his victory at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods crept closer to Sam Snead's all-time PGA Tour wins mark. But he also got fans thinking about whether golf's most famous record is once again in play.

    Woods has been stuck on 14 career major titles since the 2008 U.S. Open, although he had a pair of close calls this summer. But now that he's again a winner on Tour, oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook created bets on where Woods' career major haul will end up.

    The line they drew in the sand? Dec. 30, 2025 - when Woods, now 42, will turn 50 years old.

    According to the Westgate, Woods is a -150 favorite to win at least one more major by that time. He's 2/1 to win at least two more, 5/1 to win at least three more and 12/1 to win at least four more. But it'll take five more majors to break Nicklaus' record haul of 18, and the odds on Woods doing that by age 50 are set at 25/1.

    There are also odds on Woods' 2019 major prospects, as he's already the betting favorite for the Masters at 9/1. Woods' odds of winning any major next year are listed at +225, while the pessimists can wager -275 that his major victory drought will extend to at least 2020.

    There's even a bet for those expecting some serious history: the odds of Woods sweeping all four majors next year at age 43 are 200/1.

    Getty Images

    All 12 Europeans have history at Le Golf National

    By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:55 am

    SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The European team has plenty of experience at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National, which has been the longtime host of the French Open.

    The question this week is whether it’ll matter.

    The only American player to compete in this year’s French Open was Justin Thomas. Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Bubba Watson all got a look at Le Golf National before The Open.

    Not surprisingly, the European team has a proven track record here – all 12 players have seen the course at some point. Alex Noren won in July. Tommy Fleetwood is a past champion, too. So is European vice captain Graeme McDowell. Francesco Molinari and assistant Lee Westwood also have runners-up here.

    Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    “I definitely think it’s a help to us, for sure,” Ian Poulter said. “It’s probably the most-played venue as a Ryder Cup venue for all of the European players that have played. So we definitely have a feel of how this golf course has played in very different weather conditions. I definitely think we have an understanding of how this golf course can play.”

    Of course, this setup is no different than what players typically experience as they prepare for a major championship. They’ll play 18 holes each of the next two days, then maybe nine holes on Thursday, as they get a feel for the layout.  

    “When it’s the best players in the world, and we play on golf courses week-in and week-out where we have to learn a new golf course, it’s difficult to say how much of an advantage it will be,” Fleetwood said. “It can only be a good thing, or it can’t do any harm that we know the course better or that we’ve played it more times.

    “Knowledge can only be a good thing. Maybe it’s a little advantage, but it’s the best players in the world that are out here, so it’s not something to look at too much.”

    Getty Images

    First-tee grandstand 'biggest you'll ever see'

    By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:27 am

    SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The first-tee nerves could be even more intense this week at the Ryder Cup.

    If only because of the atmosphere.

    The grandstand surrounding the first hole at Le Golf National is unlike anything that’s ever been seen at this event – a 6,500-seat behemoth that dwarfs the previous arenas.

    “It’s the biggest grandstand you’ll ever see at a golf tournament,” Tommy Fleetwood said.

    Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    “It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had to hit that tee shot before,” Ian Poulter said. “When I think back (to my first Ryder Cup) in 2004, the stand is nothing like what we have today. So it really is going to be quite a special moment Friday, and it’s going to be very interesting to see.”

    Poulter said it’ll be his job to prepare, as best he can, the team’s rookies for what they’ll experience when the first ball goes in the air Friday morning.

    “The No. 1 thing I’ve pictured since the Ryder Cup became a goal is that first tee shot,” Fleetwood said. “But nothing prepares you for the real thing. The grandstand is pretty big – there’s no denying that.

    “It’s something that everybody wants in their career, so as nerve-wracking as it is, and whatever those feelings are, everybody wants that in their life. So you just have to take it on and let it all happen.”