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May 28, 2011

Hale Irwin


KELLY ELBIN: Hale Irwin, ladies and gentlemen, four time Senior PGA Championship champion, in with a total of 9-under par through three rounds of the 72nd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Hale, comments, please, on your round as you're tied with Mr. Murota going to the final round tomorrow, please.
HALE IRWIN: I like to pause, sort of give it a little bit of, gather your thoughts kind of thing.
HALE IRWIN: I don't know what my thoughts are, frankly. All in all I would have to say that the day was very much like the other two days. I putted very well with a singular exception here and there, that's about it.
I made a lot of nice scrambling pars, perhaps today was even more dramatic in the way I scrambled around than the previous two days.
But at the same time I'm still not -- I could always turn on yesterday's tape and play the same thing. I'm not driving it the way I wanted to, the irons still kind of are sketchy, but I'm taking advantage of what opportunities I have.
Having said that, we all, somebody out there, I know, is going to want to talk about the last hole. So I'll beat you to it and talk about it.
KELLY ELBIN: All right.
HALE IRWIN: A lot of affirmative nods. Go for the gore, right? Forget about the two shots that got me in the right position to hit the wrong club.
No, I hit my third shot, it was about where I wanted it to be, perhaps just a little short, but I tried to stretch a 53 degree sand wedge and by hitting it full I got a lot of spin on it.
I didn't quite catch it the way I wanted to, I suppose if I had it to do all over again I would hit a pitching wedge. But I thought I had enough club being downwind, even though it was uphill, that by hitting it full and putting a lot of spin on the ball and the greens were as they still are, very soft, so put two and two together you get too much spin down into the bunker.
And then the first putt, while it was not a bad putt, it just ran by about three feet and I missed it. One of the very few putts that I've missed. I missed one at 15 and a relatively short one, but I just misread that one.
So you take all the putts that I did make, the par save at 17 was unbelievable, so I have to kind of say that while I would have enjoyed the lead, by myself, I'm not sure I deserve the lead by myself. I'm very happy to share it with the whole field, to tell you the truth, because I don't feel like I've played the caliber of golf that I need to play to win.
Now having said that, there is tomorrow. And my tardiness was because I needed to go work on a couple of things on the practice tee and again, just getting through up here (Pointing to his head) what I need to do. And to be able to execute that is always a challenge, is it not? So that's all I have to say.
KELLY ELBIN: Thank you, Hale. Open it up for questions.

Q. You talked yesterday about the putting and how it looks weird to you how you have the phase open. Now that you've seen so many putts drop does it look anymore normal?
HALE IRWIN: It looks very good now.
No, it still looks odd. I was out there hitting a few putts as I finished, just to keep remind myself, it's going to take me awhile, but there are some putts that still look odd to me. Like the little putt at the last hole. It just looks odd. And I think when it looks that way I kind of hit that tentative putt. So maybe I've over done it.
As I said yesterday sometimes I may have over done it. It may actually be a little open now. So I got to really kind of look at it tomorrow before I play and get it lined up and that's what I was doing trying to refocus on the line.
I think it's weird, because the ball wasn't rolling quite the way it was the last two days. Even though I made some nice putts, they weren't solidly hit and I think it's because I just -- no wonder it looked weird, because it was weird.

Q. Did you have a fair number of shots today that may have been impacted by mud on the ball at all?
HALE IRWIN: I'm not going to jump into that mud bath. I know there's been a lot of complaining about it, I just, you play it the way it is, guys. I'm sorry. While I don't necessarily agree with it, yes, we all had mud on the ball today. There's no one that played the game today that didn't have mud on the ball and have some shots impacted by it. Absolutely.
But I'm not going to complain about it. What are you going to do? Nothing. Play it.

Q. It's been almost four years since you had the lead going into a final round of a tournament.
HALE IRWIN: Four years? You know this for a fact?

Q. Dave does.
HALE IRWIN: Well he knows everything.

Q. How nice is it to be in this position?
HALE IRWIN: Well, it's nice. I don't want to say it's an uncomfortable feeling, it's not. I've always enjoyed the lead.
But finishing the way I did -- if I birdie the last hole to be tied for the lead I would be feeling like this (Indicating) but doing what I did and I'm not even going to -- I hate that, double bogey, it sounds terrible. So I'm not going to talk about it.
So you kind of -- if I had to be tied, I would rather have birdied and then you kind of get something going, but then again, you might say well it gives you that extra kick in the tail maybe to get going.
But if you would have told me at the first of the week you're going to be tied for the lead going into the last round, I would have been just absolutely delighted and said, let's play Sunday.

Q. 16 has played so tough. Talk about that shot in there to birdie that hole for you.
HALE IRWIN: Well, again, I'm not driving the ball particularly well, so I'm pretty far back there. And it was I think a 208 yard shot that I had. Perhaps if I had, if I was really hitting the ball solidly I would have taken a 3-iron and tried to carry it over the bunker and run it up the middle of the green and be happy with it.
But I did take my hybrid club, choke down just a little bit and again because I'm, I seem to be playing a fade, that's just kind of the shot I played in there. It was not a fade shot, simply because the flag's on the left. You don't want to have to start it out that way.
But the wind was off the left and I felt like if I hit it solidly it will just be in the middle of the green. But I caught it really well, the shot was, I knew when I hit it, it was going to be a good one once the curve got going.
But knock on wood, I've been fortunate with that hole this week. I've played it well. So, but that was a nice putt to make simply because I had missed one, a little short putt on the last hole. I misread that putt and so it's nice to get that shot back.
KELLY ELBIN: What you were your impressions of Kiyoshi Murota having played now 18 holes with him?
HALE IRWIN: Now that I know him and he's not a nobody? He's a great player. He drives the ball very nicely. I would say he's moderately long. He hit some really good iron shots. I was very impressed on 14, after I had hit a 3-iron in there which looked very close, he just ripped one right in there inside me.
So that sometimes shows you a lot about somebody, when he they don't back off. And he's not that way. And he's, the next swing on the 15th hole he was reaching for his back. So I don't know if he has a few back issues or not.
But he's a real player. He's got a very good game. But it doesn't surprise me when you see that anybody that can shoot the scores he shot the first two rounds, and he didn't have a good day today, but he's tied for the lead, there's a lot there. He's a good player. If he continues playing like that he won't be a nobody very long. But he's a nice guy. Above everything else he's a very nice man.

Q. You talked on Wednesday about coming back here and the memories of 2004. It's been muddy for seven rounds I think that you've played. But you kind of like this place, don't you?
HALE IRWIN: Quack, quack, quack. Yeah. This is a -- I'm beginning to like it here simply because I guess if I ever wanted to play in the mud I know where to come.
But hats off to the superintendent. We always talk about it, but honest to Pete, that golf course is still wet. And to have been able to get out there and get the course playing as it's playing is really pretty remarkable, guys, I don't know if you've, if any of you have been out there walking some of those fairways but it is still very squishy and very muddy. I think the surprise was why we were playing the ball down today. I'm not questioning that, it's just a lot of eyebrows went up when we found out that that was happening because as a player you're walking those fairways and it's very, very muddy still.
But I would love to play Valhalla some time, even if I have to come here in June or April, December, whenever it might be, and it's not wet. I think it would be a lot of fun to play.

Q. The other day you talked about a few of the reasons you're still doing this. But is not the position you're in right now really the reason you're still doing it, to have this kind of a chance?
HALE IRWIN: Well absolutely. As I was telling Dan Hicks over at NBC, it's not that you can't hit the shots, at least I'll talk about myself, it's not that I can't hit the shots, it's harder to get through some of these weird swing times.
I used to be able, as I said, command the body to get in another position. Well it's just a harder position to get into now. So you kind of have to work your way around it.
I think it's a little more of a management of what you've got than maybe ever before. Because if I hit a poor shot in the past, I could correct it on the very next swing because, "Body, we have to go here," and it went there.
Now I hit a bad shot and I say, "Body, we have to go here," and it's, I might hit the same bad one again. So you have to kind of learn, the 16th hole in question there, that's kind of what you have to go with.
But you're right -- well there are also a lot of bills to pay too, so let's be realistic about it. But at the same time there are those of us that have been able to be blessed with some wonderful things in our lives, and this is one of those things. At least on the professional side.
And if you're not still feeling that, if you still don't want to scratch that itch, then it's time to hang 'em up. And I think there are a number of players that still have it, but the bodies just won't allow it, so you try to do something else.
I don't know what retire means. Anybody retired in here? I think anybody that has that never wants to give it up. And you're right, this is why we are here.
KELLY ELBIN: Hale Irwin, tied for the lead with one round to go.
HALE IRWIN: Okay. Thank you.

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