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July 10, 2005

Hale Irwin


THE MODERATOR: Hale, thank you for joining us. Maybe you could just get us started, maybe talk about today.

HALE IRWIN: Coming down the Back 9, I just putted poorly. I hit a few loose shots on the Back 9. I actually came down to just some very poor putting once again. It's getting very frustrating because at (indiscernible) week, I putted fair. But I hit the ball so well that I could get away with fair putting.

On the Back 9, you know, I had a chance to save a par at 10 from perhaps 12 feet. Left about a nine foot birdie putt at 11 short right in the middle. 3 putted 12 from about 20 feet, missing about a four foot second putt. Of course, 17, about a 10 foot putt, left it short right in the middle. 18, a misread.

So you look back and say just any one of those putts would have been good. Two would have been better obviously. But, you know, I'm encouraged with the ball striking, encouraged with most of my game. But, again, the putting has been the nemesis over the last three or four months. It's getting to be a little frustrating, I suppose.

THE MODERATOR: What did you hit on 18, your second shot?

HALE IRWIN: I was debating with a ball that had gone into a divot whether or not I could get it out of there with a 7 iron, get it all the way back to the hole or whether I had to take a little 6. The ball in the divot called for a 7 iron, but the wind was such I didn't think I could get it back there.

I really hit probably as good a shot as I could possibly hit under those conditions in that lie I had. Not to be able to capitalize is really kind of a disappointment, particularly the way the putts at 17 and 18 were. Just no brainer putts. And I just didn't have the brain. That's why they're "no brainers."

What did Peter shoot? 66?


HALE IRWIN: That's what I was hopeful of. If I could just shoot something in the 60s, that would force somebody to have to shoot that. That's what happened, except I didn't shoot in the 60s. The 1 over par on the Back 9 was just a killer. You can't do that in this game against these players. It's a death knell really. No matter what your lead is, if you come into the Back 9 over par, you're going to lose ground.


Q. Got off to a really good start.

HALE IRWIN: I had the start, although it was not quite as crisply played as one might appear looking at the score. Frankly, at the 1st hole I drove it just in the right rough, hit a pitching wedge over the tree. The only part about that was I wasn't aiming at the pin, I was aiming left. I pushed it, and I ended up about four feet from the hole.

Then 3, I hit it in the left bunker. Hit it out of there to the wrong side of the fairway. Hit a fabulous third shot, made a nice putt there for a birdie. That was really kind of the last time I made a nice birdie at 17 from about eight feet.

I really didn't roll the ball very well today. I've been short a lot this week. I just never got the pace of the greens. Had I had to putt from longer distances all week let me put it this way: I hit my irons so well, I didn't have a lot of long putts. But had I not been hitting my irons as well, it probably would have been a much different kind of a week. Probably one of the best iron weeks I've had in a long, long time. That is what is required to play well around here.

Peter is, again, one of the very best iron players, too. So that's if you want to call it a secret, there's no secret, but that's the formula. You put it in position off the tee, hit good irons. That's pretty much what I did. Just one putt short.

Q. How far was your putt on the 3rd hole for the birdie?

HALE IRWIN: It was about eight feet.

Q. Peter said on TV a bit ago how he learned a lot playing with you yesterday, aiming for the fat part of the green. Made it sound like you sort of gave away the store a little bit helping him the first time around the golf course. Was that your strategy, to go for the fat part of the green?

HALE IRWIN: I thought some of the hole locations yesterday were more difficult than today. It's like they got the days reversed. Some of the holes today really any time you just have to be very careful on this course when you are to attack a pin what the downside is. If you short side or go a little long over into the bunkers, roll off into the deep rough, you've got such a difficult time getting it up and down.

My philosophy in playing this particular course, and really for that matter any course, but any time you have greens that are elevated from bunkers, you know, the bunker is a little deeper, you have the roll off area into some of the heavy rough, you can't afford to short side it. You have to be very careful on giving yourself a little bit more leeway than what you might ordinarily.

If you do that, because the greens aren't particularly large, you're going to have reasonable putts. That's what I tried to do. Although, again, I say it wasn't a great putting week, I think statistically it will show that, but I didn't make a lot of mistakes. When I did, I tried to make it on the long side where I had an opportunity. But I didn't do that every time.

I think it's just a good decision whenever you're playing these kinds of tournaments, these kinds of championships, where you have the more difficult conditions around the greens, whether it be deeper bunkers or heavier rough, just to not get quite as aggressive as you might in a normal weekly event where it's more of your club championship conditions.

Q. What happened on the four footer on No. 12?

HALE IRWIN: I guess I pulled it. It was a misread on the first putt. It was a poor putt and a misread. Between the two of them, I don't know which was worse, the misread or the putt. Both of the them didn't amount to much.

The second one, I guess I pulled it. It felt like a decent stroke. I missed a lot of putts today left. I am sure I had some breakdowns in the stroke that was leading to the ball going left on me a lot today. It seemed like when I did miss a putt, it was almost always to the left. That's something that perhaps over the next couple weeks I can work on, straighten out, get ready for the US Senior Open.

Q. (No microphone.)

HALE IRWIN: No, actually even though I made some nice short ish kind of putts on the Front 9, I still didn't have a good stroke for the longer putts. I just haven't felt comfortable anything over 10 or 12 feet all week.

There comes a point to where you know you're going to have a longer putt. 14, for instance, you know, just right at the top of my swing, a roar goes up at 16. I'll have to say it kind of flinched me a little bit. Nevertheless, I know I'm not going to have a putt inside 10 feet at that hole because I'm not aiming at the flag.

When that happens, it's almost like, "Okay, I'm not necessarily not trying to make a birdie, but I'm playing for par." You know what I'm saying? I just could never get that if I could make the one or two good putts, even if you miss them, just to roll them good where you feel like you have an opportunity, then you can get a little more aggressive. But I never had that all day. It was just one of those days I didn't quite have the putter feel. Whereas 2 under par is not a bad score, (indiscernible) looking at a Back 9 you need to play under par.

I got to get to Dayton before the hurricane gets there. I wasn't going to go till Tuesday. I'm going tomorrow morning. Beat Dennis to the punch.

Thanks, folks. Good seeing all of you again.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Hale.

End of FastScripts.

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