2002: Senior Tour - Irwin adds to senior supremacy

Blaine, Minn.

Following 20 victories on the PGA Tour, Hale Irwin turned his sights to the Senior PGA Tour in 1995. So far, it has provided a pretty handsome pension plan.

Irwin added his 35th Senior Tour title Aug. 11 with a three-shot victory at the 3M Championship at the TPC of the Twin Cities. Irwin shot a bogey-free, 4-under 68 to finish at 12-under 204 and win $262,500.

Irwin said he never dreamed he would find this level of success when he joined the Senior Tour.

“I’d be lying if I told you I had an inkling this would happen,” said Irwin, who also won this event in 1997 and ’99. “But in my heart I knew I could succeed out here.”

The numbers tell the story of his success both last week and in his Senior Tour career:

• In 54 holes at the 3M, Irwin had only one bogey – No. 8 during the second round.

• The 3M was Irwin’s third victory of 2002. He has won at least three events in each of the last six seasons and has won four events at least three times.

• He has six consecutive top-three finishes at this event on two different courses (Bunker Hills GC was host site prior to 2001); has broken par in 18 of 20 rounds; and is a combined 81 under in seven appearances.

• He has 13 consecutive subpar rounds over his last five tournaments.

• In 175 starts, he has 35 victories, 32 second-place finishes and 14 third-place finishes. This year, he has 16 top 10s in 19 events.

• He has topped $2 million in earnings ($2,124,206) for the sixth consecutive year. He has won more than $16 million in his senior career.

Putting was Irwin’s key at the 3M Championship.

“Last week (at the Long Island Classic), I played well from tee to green but was putting horribly,” said Irwin, who won for the first time since March 10. “This week my putting came around. I made some nice long putts, but I made all the 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-footers that I haven’t been making.”

Hubert Green, who defeated Irwin in a seven-hole playoff at the Lightpath Long Island Classic Aug. 4, finished second at 207.

Green shot 67 Sunday.

“Hale’s not known to be kind out here and give any strokes away,” Green said. “He doesn’t have a reverse gear in his machine.”

– From staff and wire reports

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