Rain or shine, Hale Irwin is a tough man to keep down.
Irwin finished with a second-round 68 to slip past Morris Hatalsky Feb. 28 and win the rain-delayed Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am by one shot. It was Irwin’s second victory of the year (he won January’s Turtle Bay Championship) and his 42nd title on the Champions Tour.
Irwin, who collected $240,000, took advantage of ideal weather, which made the TPC of Tampa Bay course play much easier than the previous three days. Irwin played his remaining 12 holes in 2 under to end with a 36-hole total of 8-under 134.
“It wasn’t spectacularly played golf. . . . I didn’t drive the ball well and I certainly didn’t putt all that well, but I did what I had to do when I had to do it,” Irwin said. “Maybe the bottom line to that is experience.”
Hatalsky was one of only 22 golfers to complete the second round Saturday, when the scheduled 54-hole event was reduced to 36. Heavy rain Sunday washed out play after 68 minutes, pushing the round to Monday.
Hatalsky’s 7-under 135 was the score to beat, and Irwin – playing the back nine first – pulled even with a birdie on No. 18. A birdie on No. 3 gave Irwin the lead, and he marched to victory with six consecutive pars.
“When I got up today and saw that the weather was so beautiful, I just went: ‘Darn,’ ” Hatalsky said. “In order for me to maintain that position I needed the wind to blow hard and they needed tougher conditions out there. Hale found a way to manage himself around the golf course and get on top.”
Defending champion Mark McNulty (68) birdied two of his last four holes to pull even with Hatalsky, who spent Sunday relaxing and watching college basketball before returning to the course Monday in case there was a playoff.
It was the second week in a row that a tour event was reduced because of weather. The PGA Tour’s Nissan Open Feb. 17-20 in California was reduced and Adam Scott defeated Chad Campbell in a Monday playoff. The WGC-Accenture Match Play was delayed one day because of weather.
At the Champions Tour event, only 40 of 76 players began the opening round and no one completed play Feb. 25. Two of the 76 pros didn’t even begin Round 2 until Sunday morning, and 30 remained on the course when play was suspended for the day.
Eighteen players completed the second round Sunday.
– Staff and wire reports