Triumph makes Irwin all-time leader in wins

Associated Press
Sunday, March 18

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Even as Hale Irwin collected his 30th career Senior Tour victory, he was thinking of things he could have done differently.

 Hale Irwin
Hale Irwin set a course record on the new Coyote Creek layout in coasting to his 30th career title.
Like the 18th hole.

Irwin narrowly missed a putt that would have given him a 64 for the final day of the inaugural Siebel Classic in Silicon Valley. Instead, he settled for a 7-under 65 to finish five strokes ahead of Tom Watson and Allen Doyle.

"I would have liked to make that last putt for a 64," he said. "The 65 is wonderful. But you have to keep pushing."

Irwin passed Lee Trevino for the most career wins on the Senior Tour.

The day got off to a delayed start because of fog blanketing the Coyote Creek course but it didn't slow Irwin, who started with a one-stoke lead.

With an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole and five birdies in the round, Irwin finished with a 10-under 206 total.

Doyle, who started the day a stroke off of the lead, had two eagles and two bogeys in a back-and-forth round. In the end, however, he couldn't make up enough ground and settled for a 69 and a 211 total.

Watson opened the 54-hole event with a disappointing 77 but steadily gained ground with a pair of 67s on the weekend.

All-time Senior winners
  Hale Irwin is now alone at the top in career Senior Tour victories. Here are the players with double-digit wins.
Player Wins
1. Hale Irwin 30
2. Lee Trevino 29
3. Miller Barber 24
4. Bob Charles 23
5. Don January 22
5. Chi Chi Rodriguez 22
7. Jim Colbert 20
7. Bruce Crampton 20
9. George Archer 19
9. Gary Player 19
9. Gil Morgan 19
12. Mike Hill 18
13. Raymond Floyd 14
13. Dave Stockton 14
15. Larry Nelson 13
16. Jim Dent 12
17. Dale Douglass 11
17. Bruce Fleisher 11
17. Orville Moody 11
17. Bob Murphy 11
17. Peter Thomson 11
22. Al Geiberger 10
22. Jack Nicklaus 10
22. Arnold Palmer 10

"It's a heck of a lot better than finishing 20th," Watson said of his runner-up finish.

Irwin said he was aware of the leaderboard but was able to focus on his own game.

"The numbers will come if I hit the shots I want. I can't worry about what Watson is doing, or what Doyle is doing," he said.

Jim Colbert, who won the SBC Senior Classic last weekend outside Los Angeles, challenged the leaders but bogeyed two of the final four holes for a 70 and a 214 total.

Jack Nicklaus, who was one stroke back of Irwin along with five others to start the day, shot a 71 to finish at 213. He was the crowd favorite, receiving a warm ovation as he walked up the 18th fairway.

His tie for fourth was his best on the Senior Tour since he tied for second in the 1997 PGA Seniors' Championship.

Fast greens and swirling canyon winds had vexed players through the first two rounds on the Nicklaus-designed course, which is bisected by Highway 101.

Irwin's 3-under total after 36 holes was the highest on the Senior Tour since the 1998 U.S. Senior Open.

But the gusts calmed by Sunday, and the morning fog that caused a two-hour delay to the start of the final round lifted, giving way to sunny skies with temperatures in the comfortable 70s.

Irwin earned his first victory since his daughter gave birth to his first grandchild. The three-time U.S. Open champion has played in just five tournaments this year.

Irwin cut back on his schedule this spring to spend more time in Phoenix with 5-week-old Dylan Spencer Meyer, but he plans to book more dates in the summer.

When he has the lead going into the final round, Irwin has gone on to win 19 of 25 events.

His 65 on Sunday bested J.C. Snead's 66 on Friday, the previous course best.

"Obviously, I'm delighted to say the least," Irwin said about his 30th win. "The day went, probably, better than I had hoped."

Trevino also entered the Siebel Classic, but withdrew midway through the first round because of back spasms.