Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Going like 50: Irwin Ready for 2nd Tour of Duty

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Going like 50: Irwin Ready for 2nd Tour of Duty

Article excerpt

Hale Irwin has reached another stage in his life, but not necessarily a turning point.

At various times in his career, Irwin has been depicted as a nerd, a hip, high-fiving nut, a businessman, a family man, an arrogant jerk, and a generous humanitarian.

Throughout, he has maintained a standing as one of the toughest competitors on the PGA Tour and, with three U.S. Open titles, one of the most celebrated.

Now, his persona will take on one more characteristic - he is a senior. Born in Joplin, Mo., and now living in Frontenac, Irwin celebrates his 50th birthday today.

Irwin, 6 feet and 175 pounds, remains as fit and trim as anyone on the regular tour, but he now qualifies to play on the Senior Tour. He said it is a strange feeling.

"Can you tell me what it feels like (to be 50), because I have no idea," Irwin said recently. "I feel great. I don't consider that number to be anything but a number at this point.

"My physical abilities seem to be as good now as they've been. I'm playing tee to green as well as I've ever played in my entire career. Last year was a year that I didn't look at as so abnormal because I had a pretty good year."

To call 1994 a "pretty good" year is a slight distortion. Irwin had a victory at the MCI Heritage Classic, his 20th career win. He finished 10th on the money list and made $814,436. The total ranks a close second in his career to 1990, when he won the U.S. Open at Medinah and the Buick Classic, and made $838,249.

Technology continues to improve equipment and continues to help the older set compete with the younger guns. Irwin, who ranks 57th on the '95 money list with $175,861, never has had a serious injury. He remains one of the fittest figures on the tour and has worked to keep it that way.

"I think part of it, too, is I enjoy playing against the Normans, the Prices and Couples. And as long as you can compete with those guys, you have to think young and be young. And if you can do that, then I think you can stay relatively young.

"Now, I know there will be a time where that will be more difficult. But at this juncture, I don't feel that's the case."

The pasture will have to wait. If you're thinking Irwin will hop off the regular tour and get on the senior circuit, think again. …

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