Two Sets Of Numbers, Two Stories

August 18, 2007

SUNRIVER, Ore. -- The views are pretty and the air crisp in central Oregon, but the same can't be said of Hale Irwin's game. The longtime dominator of the Champions Tour went out in 40 this morning at Crosswater Club at Sunriver in the third round of the Jeld-Wen Tradition and is currently T-55, a whopping 16 strokes behind leader David Edwards.

It has been a lost summer for Irwin, who turned 62 on June 3 but began the year with a bang by winning the MasterCard Championship, his 45 career senior title. The Tradition is only Irwin's fourth event since finishing T-7 at the Principal Charity Classic in June. Since then his best finish is T-47 at the 3M Championship, he missed the cut at the U.S. Senior Open and is struggling without much success to trade negative vibes for some confidence.

The numbers don't tell such a bleak story -- Irwin is ninth on the money list, fifth in fairways hit, fourth in GIR and 11th in putting average -- but at present he seems far from the player who has set such an amazing standard on the Champions Tour. Even though he is in his early 60s now, no one would be smart to predict that he won't find a way to turn his game around one more time, as he did with a vigorous off-season of preparation last year that resulted in his season-opening win in Hawaii. Right now, though, he is just one of  a number familiar, older senior names (including Allen Doyle and Dana Quigley), trying to play like they used to.

--Bill Fields

(Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)