home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


May 25, 2011

Hale Irwin


KELLY ELBIN: Four time Senior PGA champion Hale Irwin joining us at the 72nd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Hale won here at Valhalla in 2004. His most recent Senior PGA Championship title. Hale, welcome back and some thoughts maybe a little recollection of 2004, interesting week and then some thoughts on the golf course then versus now.
HALE IRWIN: Wow. That's quite, that's a lot of -- that's a mouthful. Well, what I had shared with you is what I shared with a number of people is that the conditions are very similar as far as footing goes, the length of the golf course I think is longer, I don't know if whether we're playing tees longer or what, but it's just, the course is playing very, very long right now.
I played early this morning, I played nine holes early this morning and it while the surface water has drained off, it's still very, very muddy underneath so the ball is still staying where it lands and probably has no affect on distance right now. It's just playing very long.
The good part is you can still kind of see the first green. Versus in 2004 we kind of lost the first green a couple of times. So I think that you could tell there's been a lot of work done here and unfortunately the weather is just not letting it really show itself, because Valhalla's in great shape, it's a wonderful golf course.
But I think all the players are looking for a way to use a 7 or an 8 or a 9-iron on something other than a third shot and it's probably not going to happen. It's just very long.
The quality of the field I think it's outstanding, it's just, I just came from the locker room and I keep looking and seeing all these really good players go by and I'm thinking, this could really be a great championship. So perhaps we can dodge some of this nasty weather that's supposedly headed our way and get on with the tournament.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions.

Q. Wondering, how do you keep pushing yourself not just physically, but also mentally to keep competing at a high level year after year?
HALE IRWIN: Well, can I bring you my stack of bills?
(Laughter.) That's a pretty good incentive right there.
I think like everyone we have all been affected in some way shape or form over the last couple years and I think it important at least forgetting the financial, which you can't, but let's just practice, try to. I still have a desire to compete, whereas I've kind of found that over the last year or so, but maybe the realization is hitting me that I used to be able to command my body to do what I wanted it do and now I give it that command and it hesitates or it gives me feedback, no, I don't want to do that, I don't want to go there.
So it's sort of, for me, it's kind of a transition between command and do it and now it's a command and command and command and it's just the lag time is greater now.
I think too there is a sense of there is going to be an end. Whether it's a tapering off or whether it's the cliff, I don't know. But I do know that I still enjoy the competition, I still like to push myself. I still enjoy going out and playing against the young guys as they come on the TOUR.
So that hasn't stopped. I think as long as you feel that, then I owe it to myself to continue playing. And whether or not I can accept some of the issues that have come about, frankly I told myself at the beginning of the year I needed to widen the funnel just a little bit. I think I got it so tight and trying to let only the good stuff get through that it couldn't even get through.
So I've got to back it out and kind of let it filter itself out somewhere else. Because it's just, people ask me, is it fun? Well it's not fun to play poorly. But I hit enough good shots along the way to know I can do this and now it's just a matter of trying to put one and one and one and one back to back to back to where you get in that level of comfort that you can play better.
It's a long windy answer to a short question and I apologize, but it's kind of a, it's a transition time. I understand that. But I still feel like I'm in a reasonable good shape. Now hauling yourself around this golf course and I think every hole is uphill into the wind, it sure seems like it, it's like going to school when you were a kid, you know. Going to school was always uphill into the wind both ways. But that's what this course feels like right now.
You play this hole and you got to walk to another tee that's back up there and play it. So it will be a tiring, for all of us I think it's a slog underneath, under foot, so you have to be in somewhat good shape.

Q. I know you don't play for Top-10s, but have you had a couple this year and sort of had a couple weeks where you had a little bit of the old form. Did a that make you feel that there might be some light at the end of the tunnel?
HALE IRWIN: Yes. The light was, it's always been there, it's just kind of faint. It's kind of like the candle that's just about to go out. But then it kind of got turned up a little bit and I feel somewhat encouraged about the way I have been striking the ball.
But as we all know, this game it ebbs and it flows, it's good and it's bad and it's up and it's down and the last several years have not been a lot of fun, I have not played particularly well. This year I have started out as you mentioned with some better finishes and that gives me some encouragement that I still can do it. It's just a matter now of believing that I can do it and really trying to keep it simple.
The old phrase, keep it simple, stupid. That's really what I'm trying to do is not to let some of that other stuff again going back to that funnel kind of letting it come in and sort itself out during the process rather than almost beating myself up with some poor decisions.
But I'm just finally coming to the conclusion that the brain and the body just aren't quite in contact with one another the way they used to be. So I just have to be a little bit more wary of what I can and can't do.
KELLY ELBIN: You had three Top-10 finishes on the Champions Tour this year, what was clicking those particular weeks? Was it one particular aspect of your game.
HALE IRWIN: I think that it was primarily my old game. It was managing what I had rather than letting myself get carried away with maybe that shot wasn't as perfect as I would like it to be rather than really trying harder on the next shot to make it more perfect and it just got worse and worse.
I just kind of said, well that's fine, that's just, let's just play this next one and just try and take some of the heat off and it might mean simply hitting the middle of the greens.
Now you can take that argument to this course this week. If you can put yourself in the middle of every green in regulation, take your chances, because it's going to be a long, long golf course that's there's not going to be a lot of birdie putts here. So if you can do that and just, yes, you'll have a few problems on the greens, because there's enough contour in them, but you're going to do okay.
So that's kind of simplifying the formula a little bit and that's what those were. I didn't putt that much better, I didn't hit the irons that much better, I just did it all just a little bit better and that kind of falls under the heading of management.

Q. From a physical standpoint you had the back injury you had seven or eight years ago, you had that, how do you, what do you do differently now in terms of trying to just physically stay in shape and is there anything that changed drastically that you did before that injury to now?
HALE IRWIN: I know I have to be very cognizant of how much practice time I put in. Up until maybe eight, nine months ago I was still working out pretty hard. But my body just was sore. So I just kind of backed off of it. Just didn't do anything and let it sort of rest and do its thing.
And the rest has made me a bit more out of touch and out of tune, really, physically. But I don't, I don't hurt. Like most of us, I get up in the morning and I think okay, what's going to hurt today. But it passes.
But I just have to kind of be careful how many balls I hit, I can't go out and hit a bunch of, a bag full or an hour's worth of hooks. That puts me in a position of some discomfort.
So my body's telling me that that is not a good position to be in. Now can I go out and hit that shot when I need to? Yes. But it's not a shot I can go practice a lot because then that that's that fine line of trying to work on it and then it works back.
So there again, it comes under that term of management. What can I do and what can I not do. And it's sort of learning to play the game just a little bit differently now at this age of nearly 66. Oh, that seems, oh, that hurt saying that. Wow.

Q. This course has sort of been on the national map for 15 years now since the first PGA was here, you played it before, how has it changed and has it grown in stature at all?
HALE IRWIN: I think the golf course itself is good. Any time you play a course that's been designed by Pete Dye you know you're in for a golf experience. I don't know as I am a big fan of No. 6, how that change came about, but that aside, it can play brutally long, which it's playing right now, depending upon where the championship committee puts the tees. But I do think it rewards good play.
If you're crisp as you should be with your iron play and you keep the ball in play, the rough, while right now because it's so wet it's fairly difficult, and it's not going to dry out any, so we can just assume that's going to happen, that the best player will probably win this week. The guy that keeps it in play the most and gives himself, whether it's more opportunities for success or less opportunities for failure, however you want to look at it, that will be the player that will end up winning.
I'm reasonably confident that I can get my game in some sort of fashion and keep it going forward. It's not as if this course is a push over by any means, but if you drive the ball well and you play some reasonably intelligent second shots there's enough holes out there to, again, depending upon where they put the flags and where they put the tees. If you can get to it then the greens are putting, they're not fast, they're a good speed to be somewhat aggressive. So I think that you might see the occasional good score out there, I don't see the field really going low though, I just don't see that at all.
KELLY ELBIN: Hale Irwin, thank you very much.
HALE IRWIN: Okay. Thank you for allowing me to come in early, I appreciate it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297