2005: Turtle Bay’s broken record: Irwin again
When the Champions Tour shows up to Turtle Bay each year, the drama usually centers on who will finish second.
The winner is a foregone conclusion.
On Jan. 30, Hale Irwin passed Tiger Woods, Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen and Tom Morris Jr. in the history books.
Irwin’s five-shot victory at the Turtle Bay Championship was his fifth consecutive in the event. Woods (Bay Hill Invitational, 2000-03), Sarazen (Miami Open, 1926, 1928-30), Hagen (PGA Championship, 1924-27) and Morris (British Open, 1868-70, 1872) all won events four consecutive times.
“It’s always good to be a part of history and I think this is a very proud moment,” said Irwin, 59, who closed with a 5-under 67 for a record 16-under 200 total.
With his fourth victory at Turtle Bay and sixth overall title in the event, Irwin pushed his Champions Tour-record victory total to 41. Irwin won this event in 1997 and 2000-03. There was no event in 2004, in preparation for the tournament’s move from its late October time frame to early January this year.
With the trade wind kicking in, Irwin masterfully controlled the Turtle Bay Resort’s balmy, oceanside Palmer Course, breaking his own tournament mark of 11-under 205 set in 2001. He earned $225,000 and recorded his 100th top-3 finish in 230 Champions starts.
“Hale was just on another planet,” said Dana Quigley, who finished second. “He was in a different world. No one could’ve beaten him today.”
Irwin, coming off a third-place tie Jan. 23 in the season-opening MasterCard Championship on the Big Island, has won eight official events in the islands dating to the PGA Tour’s 1981 Hawaiian Open, earning nearly $3.9 million.
“I can’t tell you how lucky I am with a third last week and a first this week because I didn’t do anything for six weeks,” he said.
His time away from golf never showed.
Irwin took away any suspense early, making five birdies on the front nine to make the turn at 31 and take a commanding six-stroke lead, leaving the rest of the field fighting for second. He got to 17 under with a birdie at No. 10, but dropped a shot at the par-3 15th hole.
“Two of the three days, I got off to a very quick start,” Irwin said. “It sets the tempo for the rest of the day and you feel like you don’t have to peddle quite so hard to keep up with the pack because you’re ahead of the pack.
“Then it’s a matter of trying to keep your focus and not get yourself into situations where you blindside yourself.”
Quigley, the MasterCard winner, shot 69 and took home $132,000 to push his two-week winnings to $404,000.
“Finishing 1-2 in the first two weeks is beyond what I expected,” he said.
– Staff and wire reports