Irwin's dominance no laughing matter
|||Irwin going for six in a row|
Hale Irwin's North Shore domination reached comedic proportions a year ago. Beginning tomorrow, in the first round of the Turtle Bay Championship, the rest of the golfers on the Champions Tour hope to get serious again.
Dana Quigley, who came up five shots short of preventing Irwin from winning a fifth consecutive Turtle Bay Championship a year ago, characterized him as being "on another planet, in a different world." He joked about finding a way to get Irwin disqualified.
If Irwin wins again this week, the other 77 guys in the field might have to consider a plot. Their best hope might be that Irwin didn't finish in the top 20 last week at the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai. In his 12-year senior career, he has top-10 finishes in more than 77 percent of his starts.
Last week, he came up 15 shots short of Loren Roberts' record 25-under-par winning score. Ten under might be good at Turtle Bay's wet and windy Palmer Course this week. It played over par last year, some 4 1/2 shots harder than Hualalai.
That might slow the seniors down, which takes some doing, according to Roberts. He played six Champions Tour events last year after turning 50 and what he really enjoys, beyond winning more than $1.2 million so far, is the rapid pace of play.
"When you've got that cut Friday afternoon (on the regular tour), you've got a lot of young guys trying to get somewhere, they struggle a little bit. Out here, I absolutely love how fast the guys play a round," Roberts said.
Irwin is not the only player this week who has won in Hawai'i. David Ishii, the 1990 Hawaiian Open champion from 'Aiea, is making his Champions Tour debut on an exemption from Turtle Bay. Isao Aoki, Andy Bean, Ben Crenshaw, Hubert Green, Wayne Levi, Bruce Lietzke and Howard Twitty also won at Waialae Country Club.
Bruce Fleisher and Jay Sigel won this event when it was played at Ka'anapali. John Jacobs, Tom Kite, Gil Morgan, Larry Nelson, Fuzzy Zoeller, Quigley and Roberts have won at Hualalai.
Eight seniors will play in the Wendy's Champions Skins Game, Feb. 6 at Wailea's Gold Course. The teams of Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Peter Jacobsen, Raymond Floyd and Quigley, and Gary Player and Irwin will play a new alternate-shot format.