American professional golfer

Date of Birth: 3 June 1945

Age: 79 years old

Zodiac sign: Gemini

Profession: Golfer



Hale S. Irwin is an American professional golfer. He was one of the world's leading golfers from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. He is one of the few players in history to win three U.S. Opens, becoming the oldest ever U.S. Open champion in 1990 at the age of 45. As a senior golfer, Irwin ranks second all-time in PGA Tour Champions victories. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in Champions Tour history. He has also developed a career as a golf course architect.

Professional career

In 1968, Irwin turned professional. Irwin's first PGA Tour victory was at the 1971 Sea Pines Heritage Classic.

Irwin's first U.S. Open triumph came at Winged Foot in 1974 at the age of 29. In what became known as "The Massacre at Winged Foot", Irwin won with a score of 7-over par, the second-highest winning score in relation to par of any U.S. Open since 1945. The course conditions at Winged Foot in 1974 were described as "brutal". Johnny Miller and several other players suggested that the USGA had intentionally made the Winged Foot course setup particularly treacherous in response to Miller's record-breaking round of 63 at Oakmont the year before. Irwin, however, said in 1974: "I've always enjoyed playing tough courses. It's much more of a challenge to me." Irwin earned $35,000 for his victory at Winged Foot and said that he had a vivid dream three weeks earlier that he won the U.S. Open, which he only told his wife about.

Irwin won the Piccadilly World Match Play Championship at Wentworth Club in 1974 and 1975. He missed out on a record-breaking third straight victory when he was beaten in the 1976 final by Australian David Graham on the second sudden-death playoff hole.

Between January 1975 to the end of the 1978 season, Irwin made the cut in 86 consecutive PGA Tour events. To date, this is the fourth-longest streak of consecutive cuts made on the PGA Tour.

In 1977, Irwin's three wins on the PGA Tour included a five-shot victory in the Colgate Hall of Fame Classic at Pinehurst Resort. Irwin shot a second round of 62 at Pinehurst for a 15-under par opening 36-hole total of 127, which was the best in any PGA Tour event for over a decade.

Irwin's tournament victories kept him ranked high among his peers - he was ranked among the top five in McCormack's World Golf Rankings in every year from 1975 to 1979, inclusive. He ranked in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings for a few weeks in 1991.

Irwin added a second U.S. Open title in 1979 at Inverness Club. With its narrow fairways and heavy rough, the Inverness course was a stern test for the players. Irwin's final round of 75 tied the post-World War II tournament record for the highest final round score by a U.S. Open champion. The next month in The Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, Irwin came to the final round with a two-shot lead. He was bidding to become one of the few golfers in golf history to win the U.S. Open and British Open in the same year. Irwin said in 1979: "I would dearly love to win the British Open. It is special." However, he was thwarted in his attempt at an historic double by the incredible recovery play of Seve Ballesteros.

In 1983, Irwin had another close tilt at The Open Championship, but lost by a shot to Tom Watson at Royal Birkdale, after whiffing on a tiny putt of about an inch, during his third round of play. Irwin said that his mistake, which cost him the chance of a playoff with Watson, was "a mental lapse" and that he learned a lesson from it, later being very careful on short putts.

Irwin later said that the greatest disappointment of his career was not at the British Open, but at the 1984 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club. Irwin had led the tournament after the first three rounds but shot a final round of 79 to finish 6th. Reflecting on his final round collapse, Irwin said: "A number of factors were in play and it was very emotional. I thought it would be great to win 10 years later at the same venue and, more than anything else, my father was dying of cancer then and I thought it would be wonderful to give him a victory. I destroyed myself with the pressures I'd built up."

After his victory in the 1985 Memorial Tournament, Irwin had occasional top-10 finishes in tournaments for the remainder of the decade but he did not have a further official PGA Tour win until an incredible year in 1990, which was capped by his third U.S. Open victory. In a remarkable tournament, Irwin holed an improbable 45-foot (14 m) birdie putt on the 72nd hole to join a playoff against fellow American Mike Donald. In the 18-hole Monday playoff, Donald was two shots ahead of Irwin with three holes to play. Donald missed a 15-foot par putt on the 18th which would have given him victory. Both men shot rounds of 74 in the playoff and Irwin won the title with a birdie on the first sudden-death playoff hole. After becoming the oldest ever U.S. Open champion at the age of 45, winning his first PGA Tour event for five years, Irwin was gracious in victory. He said of his playoff opponent Mike Donald: "God bless him. I almost wish he had won." The following week, Irwin won the Buick Classic.

During his career, Irwin won professional tournaments on all six continents on which golf is played: Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, North America and South America. Irwin played on five Ryder Cup teams: 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, and 1991. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1992.

Irwin's final PGA Tour win was at the 1994 MCI Heritage Golf Classic. This win at the age of nearly 49 made him one of the oldest winners in Tour history. Overall, he won prize money of just under six million dollars in his career.

Former U.S. Open champion and television analyst Ken Venturi said of Irwin: "Aesthetically and technically, Hale stands at the ball as well as any player I've ever seen."


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