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May 27, 2011

Hale Irwin


KELLY ELBIN: 66 years young on June the 3rd, Hale Irwin shoots 68 today and is 7-under par tied for the clubhouse lead midway through the second round of the 72nd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Hale, looks like age is just a number when you can go out and shoot scores like you shot in the first two rounds. Congratulations.
HALE IRWIN: Well it was certainly good scoring, I can't honestly say that tee to green I played particularly well, but I sure did putt well the last day, whatever it was.
I was out at TaylorMade last week and went into their putting studio and got a couple of little tips from a technician there and it's worked a lot and worked very nicely.
So if I can kind of get my tee to green game a little bit more predictable, particularly my irons, and keep my putting touch going, I'll feel very good going into the weekend.
But, having said that, it's a golf course that obviously it's proven its graciousness to me, and I feel very good about playing the course, but it's still very long.
I'm not one of the longest players by any stretch of the imagination, in fact I'm more on the short side, so playing some of these holes as long as they are and hitting the second shots as long as I've put myself in that position to hit those long shots, it's required a lot of scrambling as well. But again, it goes back to the short game on the putting, I've pulled some pars out of some pretty tough spots right now.
KELLY ELBIN: Hale, you had 26 putts today, you had 53-over the first two rounds. Anything in particular that you worked on on putting?
HALE IRWIN: More than anything else I felt that I had been aiming my putter blade a little bit too much to the right and obviously like most things you swing it too far to the left this time. And it proved in the studio that I was aiming left, the putter blade was aiming left and then I had to open the blade to get it back on line.
So it looks, still it looks very odd to me to look down there and what appears to be my putter blade wide open, but it's really square.
But I've had to trust that and, boy, I've rolled some really nice putts. So sometimes you can kind of get away with it because it's feel and it is your personal approach to it, but in this case it was not the right approach for me. And it was proven and I'm very grateful that it came about as nicely as it has, because as you say, 53 putts around here is pretty good. Real good. In fact it's real good.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions.

Q. Just talk about the conditions of the course and just how tough today was playing all those holes. How many did you play actually?
HALE IRWIN: 52. We played an entire tournament today. It seems like.
I played 28 holes. But the course is playing long. I was telling my caddie today, even in 2004 I can remember hitting the ball farther than what we were or what we have been, what I have been this week. And I wasn't any longer in 2004 than I am now.
So I don't know what, it just seems heavier, the golf course. It seems very, very heavy. And I'm, again, like I said, I'm not striking the ball particularly well off the tee. I'm hitting a lot of fairways, but I'm well back. So it makes for some very long second shots.
But has it dried out any? Well some of the surface water is gone, but it's still very wet and very mushy underneath. And I don't see that drying out that much more over the next couple of days. What might happen is that there will be more mud on the ball because right now it's sort of splattering and after it firms up just a tiny bit and that mud stays there, it will get, there will be some really muddy balls, unless we play the lift, clean and place again.

Q. Considering the fact that you say you haven't played great tee to green, how gratifying are the two scores that you've turned in? Has that been mostly because of the putting?
HALE IRWIN: I'm delighted with it, honestly. I've hit some good shots, don't get me wrong. I've hit some good shots, but just let me paint a quick picture.
This morning when we came -- I'm so confused here from yesterday and -- because it just all runs together. But yesterday, last night, I was going along and I made a bomb at 16 for a birdie. Totally unexpected.
And then I made a real nice par putt at 17 and then that was it.
Then I come out today, on number 18, our first hole, I make a bomb for a birdie. So those two bombs right together -- I say a bomb meaning these are 40 plus foot putts.
You don't expect that. So that's a real bonus. But that, it also kind of gets you going and other than the 3-putt that I had to end the round the first round on the ninth hole, I had a lot of good chances and I putted very well.
Then we just go into the locker room and sort of say hello to the locker room guys and go right to the first tee and I hit a 3-wood second shot. It wasn't a big one, but I mean it was a, it was a 3-wood and I hit it about this far from the hole (Indicating). And then I have a tap-in at 2.
So you kind of get launched into it real quickly and that's good, because you need that on this golf course. And then I made some really good up-and-downs throughout the day. Didn't putt quite as well on the back nine, but I had some opportunities. And then to close it out with a birdie on 18.
So I'm extremely happy with what I have. I don't care where the lead goes, I'm happy with where I am. I've gotten just about everything I could out of my game the last couple of days.

Q. It looks like you have one of your grandchildren here, how cool is it to be able to play this kind of golf in front of him?
HALE IRWIN: Well, I don't know, Dylan, this is my grandson Dylan, his father, Tim. They just drove over from St. Louis this morning. Dylan's been to, oh, I don't know, probably a half a dozen tournaments. He's caddied for me a couple times in some pro-ams, we play some golf together.
He understands the game. Pretty good player himself. As is his father. So it's good that I think he can see his family playing and it's fun to play in front of him.
I really didn't really know what to tell him over the last couple of days whether to make the four hour drive or not, simply because it's, the weather's been so horrible. But they assured me there was sun in St. Louis this morning, so hopefully it's coming this way. But it's a lot of fun. A lot of fun.

Q. Can you explain how a player that's accomplished as much as you have in this game, something goes wrong where you think you're aiming somewhere where you're not with your putter. As basic as that sounds.
HALE IRWIN: No, I think that we all can lapse into some bad habits. And I could have probably discovered this on my own eventually, but there's a lot of things that I could have done eventually a long time ago.
I think that the corrections were more easily made 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago than they are now. And I don't know how to explain that, other than I think the focus is not quite as intense, as concentrated as clear as it might have been. I make mistakes now and I tell my body, "Body, don't do that anymore. Let's do this." And body says, "Nuh-huh, I don't want to go there."
And I used to have command of my body. Now it's like my brain and my body are two separate entities that don't communicate. It's amazing. And they used to work together.
So, but a lot of it I think too is vision. My vision, as you get older I don't think your vision's quite as good. I had Lasik probably, what did we have it, 10 years ago? '99?
But then the last several years I've had to go to contact lenses, because my eyes have changed again. So I think part of it is vision. I look down there and it looks pretty square to me. Until you look at it analytically and it's not.
So when I do that it looks, whoa, that looks really strange, especially when I have a left-to-right putt and it feels like I'm aiming it to the right. Trust. Five letter word as in faith. Which I need a lot of that right now.

Q. Do you know anything at all about Kiyoshi Murota? He shot a 66 and he's birdied three of the first?
HALE IRWIN: I'm sorry, what did you say?

Q. Have you ever met him or do you know anything at all about this guy?
HALE IRWIN: No. No, obviously don't need to, just look at the scoreboard and you can see what a good player he must be. Now has he played over here? I would have, I'm asking you, has he played in the U.S.? He has?

Q. He was second at Turtle Bay one year. When Fred won?

Q. Fred Funk.
HALE IRWIN: Oh, at Turtle Bay. Oh, our Turtle Bay. Oh. Well, he can play. Obviously he can play. You don't have to be, you don't have to know the guy when you look at the board and you see the scores he's shooting and he shoots what, 6-under and goes out and birdies the first two holes, that's pretty impressive.
So I don't have to know anything more about him, other than he's very capable. But, no, on a personal note, I don't know him.
KELLY ELBIN: Jock Hutchinson is the oldest winner of this championship and he was 62 in 1947. What would it mean to you to win Senior PGA Championship at almost 66 years of age?
HALE IRWIN: Oh, it would be an absolutely wonderful. Forgetting the age. It would just be, just to win this championship again would be fantastic. It would be absolutely fantastic.
I think this is one of those events, one of those tournaments that we all cherish and we want to play well and have the opportunity to win. If you can give your self the chance in the last nine holes, which I've always said, if I can give myself a chance, then that's all I can do. And right now that's, I'm giving myself a chance, I'm playing myself into position to have a good weekend.
Now, whether I will or not, I can't, I don't know. I just want to have lunch and put my feet up right now. That's about all I can think about. So if you will let me go, I'm going to go have some lunch.
KELLY ELBIN: We're going to do just that. Four time Senior PGA Championship champion, Hale Irwin. Thank you.

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