Monday, February 1, 1999
Hale Irwin follows the flight of his drive on the 18th hole
during the final round of the Senior Skins Game at the Big Island's
Mauna Lani Resort. Irwin captured the event, winning $230,000.
Floyds run at
He cashed in seven skins forBy Bill Kwon
KOHALA COAST, Hawaii - Deliberately miss a putt to win?
Not Hale Irwin. But he faced that curious scenario in winning the Senior Skins Game to end Raymond Floyd's five-year domination at the Mauna Lani Resort's Francis I'i Brown South Course yesterday.
Irwin had no such thoughts but, obviously, it had to have been in the back of his mind because he brought it up before anyone asked.
"Some might be thinking I was trying to miss the putt on the last hole. (But) emphatically, I was trying to make it," said Irwin, who set up the unique situation by cashing in seven skins for $230,000 yesterday.
Floyd had tapped in for a birdie at the 18th hole with four skins and $160,000 on the line. Irwin had an 18-footer to tie.
If Irwin had sunk his birdie putt, it would have meant an extra playoff hole, giving Jim Colbert another opportunity to overtake him for the championship.
Irwin's putt just missed, dying left of the hole.
"That's not the way I live my life and play my game. I was going for a 4," said Irwin, the Senior PGA Tour's money champion the last two years.
That gave Floyd $160,000, saving him from the embarrassment of getting shut out after winning the event five straight years.
"Maybe that last hole took a little sting out of it," said Floyd, who finished second. "I had a marvelous run."
Colbert, who set a first-day record by winning $150,000 with seven skins, didn't get any yesterday.
"Every week's getting tough. But I'm getting used to that," said Arnold Palmer, who failed to win a hole in playing the event for the 11th time in 12 years.
"Arnold may have been shut out, but he still helped a lot of people," Irwin said.
"We'd all have liked Arnie to win a skin, but not at our expense," said Colbert, who replaced Jack Nicklaus when the latter had to withdraw because of hip-replacement surgery. "Can you imagine how he drives the ball at 69 years of age. It's amazing."
"He drives it like he drives his airplane," piped in Floyd, who had a sure $40,000 in his hip pocket when his tee shot at the par-3 15th ended 21/2 feet from the flagstick. But Palmer rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt for the halve.
After being the only money winner Saturday, Colbert had said that the game was still on the table. "But, man, I'd like to have his chips," Irwin wise-cracked.
Yesterday, on Super Sunday, Irwin scooped up the most chips.
He started out by birdieing the opening hole, the par-5 10th, after a long bunker shot left him 22 feet from the pin. With two $30,000 carryovers from the day before, Irwin picked up $90,000.
The next three holes were halved, setting up a four-skin, $140,000 bonanza at the par-4 14th. After backing off once, Irwin coolly stroked in an eight footer for birdie to surge past Colbert and mathematically eliminate Floyd from any chance of making it a "six-peat."
Floyd finally picked up enough to finish in second place at the final hole. But it was too little, too late.
But the third time was a charm, according to Irwin, who finished second to Floyd last year and third in his first appearance in 1997.
"It's strange how the skins game unfolds and how you can play very well and not come up with any skins, and not play so well and win them," said Irwin, at 53, the youngest in the group.
And that also goes for the case when, for once, not making a birdie putt can make it all worthwhile.
At Kohala Coast, Hawaii
No. 1, 378-yard, par 4: Jim Colbert wins one skin. $20,000.
No. 2, 215-yard, par 3: Halved.
No. 3, 587-yard, par 5: Colbert wins two skins. $40,000.
No. 4, 389-yard, par 4: Halved.
No. 5, 401-yard, par 4: Halved.
No. 6, 214-yard, par 3: Halved.
No. 7, 394-yard, par 4: Colbert wins four skins. $90,000.
No. 8, 387-yard, par 4: Halved.
No. 9, 568-yard, par 5: Halved.
No. 10, 533-yard, par 5: Hale Irwin wins three skins. $90,000.
No. 11, 402-yard, par 4: Halved.
No. 12, 198-yard, par 3: Halved.
No. 13, 380-yard, par 4: Halved.
No. 14, 415-yard, par 4: Irwin wins four skins. $140,000.
No. 15, 196-yard, par 3: Halved.
No. 16, 362-yard, par 4: Halved.
No. 17, 406-yard, par 4: Halved.
No. 18, 513-yard, par 5: Raymond Floyd wins four skins. $160,000.
Skins Money Hale Irwin 7 $230,000 Raymond Floyd 4 $160,000 Jim Colbert 7 $150,000 Arnold Palmer 0 0