2002: Irwin adds to island success

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Kahuku, Hawaii

Three rounds of golf with the talkative CBS announcer Gary McCord could give anyone headaches.

“Oh God, not three days in a row,” Hale Irwin said after the second round while plugging his ears. “I’ll take my earmuffs tomorrow.”

Irwin survived just fine, thank you.

Irwin birdied the first playoff hole Oct. 6 at the Turtle Bay Championship, beating McCord to win the event for the third consecutive year.

The victory added to the impressive record Irwin has in Hawaii. Irwin, 57, won for the sixth time in Hawaii, including five senior titles. He also has earned three Senior Skins Game victories on the islands.

“I guess you could call Hawaii a second home,” said Irwin, who won for the fourth time in 2002 and 36th time since joining the Senior Tour in 1995. “It certainly is a primary home for my golf game with the successes I’ve had here. It’s just fantastic.”

Irwin and McCord finished 54 holes at 8-under 208. Irwin shot 70 Sunday and McCord closed with a 3-under 69. Irwin’s 8-foot birdie putt for the victory also snapped an 0-5 playoff record.

“My playoff record is not exemplary,” Irwin said. “I don’t know why, it just isn’t. This is a nice one to get down for a lot of reasons.”

The victory allowed Irwin to join Jack Nicklaus as the only player to win the same tournament four times on the Senior PGA Tour. Nicklaus won The Tradition in 1990, 1991, 1995 and 1996. Irwin also won this event in 1997 at Kaanapali Golf Course.

Irwin’s earnings increased to $2,829,041 – nearing the never-before topped $3 million mark – with three events left. However, Irwin is skipping this week’s Napa Valley Championship.

The victory also secured the Charles Schwab Cup – a $1 million annuity – for Irwin.

McCord, who was seeking his first victory since the 1999 Senior Tour Championship, said Irwin is tough.

“I hadn’t been there in a while and I couldn’t pressure him and couldn’t go out in front of him,” McCord said.

McCord rallied on the front nine, closing with three consecutive birdies to tie Irwin before parring the rest of the way.

– Staff and wire reports

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