What they said: Hale Irwin

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July 31, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: U.S. Senior Open Championship transcript archive

HALE IRWIN: I guess a synopsis of the day is I had a very good day as far as hitting the ball and having a lot of chances. Probably the best day of all four. But it was playing long. That back nine is playing very long today. Coming down that stretch at 1-under par was -- I might have caught a few guys on that stretch, but I didn't pick it up where I needed to on some of the easier holes.

I had good looks at the last couple of holes after birdieing 16; had a good look at 17 and then 18 and couldn't get them down. While it was a very good tournament, it's always -- you like to walk off that last hole with a little up beat, and three days straight I've misread that green. I don't know, maybe in my next lifetime I'll get to putt it again.

But it was a wonderful week. I'm very happy with the way things came out.

There's always room for improvement. I guess that's always part of who and what I am. I'm always looking to improve. But it was a wonderful week.

Q. You won the U.S. Open the last time it was here back in an earlier era with different golf balls, different equipment. Do you think this course will or should get another U.S. Open??

HALE IRWIN: I'll be noncommittal on that because it's going to upset somebody I'm sure. The course, other than those holes that are -- from 12 on, they're probably for the regular Tour players medium to medium long. I don't know how -- I haven't played over there, so all I can go is by what I see and hear when they're driving the ball 330 yards and things like that. It would be, I think, a stretch to look at those holes -- they're difficult. They'd be difficult for anybody, let's put it that way. But as far as distance wise, there's a couple holes they'd be hitting 3-woods off of. I would guess the 11th hole would be a drivable par-4 for those guys.

What they can do or if they even want to do it, I don't know. It's just a different game that we're playing now from, as you say, in '79, because it was plenty long. The removal of trees, yes, it's opened it up. Yes, it's opened it up; it hasn't penalized some of the wayward shots. So I think there's got to be a careful examination by the USGA and by Inverness Club if they really truly want to go through with the exercise of doing it.

Q. The graduated rough era now that we're in with the regular U.S. Open and this championship, if you get a week where you've had a lot of rain, it's much different from the old days where if you had soft greens and you still had choking six-inch rough, it would still be a really hard test??

HALE IRWIN: Right, yes. You make a good point. We don't see that gnarly rough anymore. The trouble with the graduation, yes, it goes fairway and then it goes over a little bit and supposedly -- but it doesn't, they top it. And then it goes to the ropes where it's beat down. So really and truly, unless you really grow it long and gnarly, it's not going to be a deterrent to today's player. Their club head speed and the manner in which they strike the ball and the way the ball comes off the club head and the club face, it's not that big of a -- it is, yes, but it's not totally penalizing the way it used to be.

Now, whether or not they want to go to that is another thing. If you were to take this golf course -- and I thought the fairways were relatively narrow this week. If they were to let that gnarly rough really get gnarly, similar to what we saw maybe up at the Canadian Open last week or whenever it was, then you might have something. But that would have to happen.

Q. Is there another course like Inverness that maybe --

HALE IRWIN: Well, I think -- I don't know how to answer that, other than the examination might be Merion and what they're going to do to Merion might be similar to what they have to do here, if and when they want to do that. I can't fathom what they're going to do to Merion other than what we just discussed, unless they overnight say, boys, we're going to get that ball down and we're not going to hit the ball so far. That's where we've got to go.

Anyway, my round was great, thanks for asking. (Laughing.)

Q. Talk about your longevity. It's been remarkable. As a result you're breaking some of these records that you know about. Talk about how proud you are.

HALE IRWIN: Well, this was a special week, there's no doubt this was a special week, and no doubt there was more internal combustion for this week, there was a fire in the belly to play well this week. I didn't get to play in '03 because I was down with my back. But when you're playing against guys like around the corner, Calc, who's such a very good player and he hits the ball great and he's having a wonderful year and he's one of our great players, and I'm really kind of stoking him right now, but he is one of our best players. When you can play with and against guys like this, you've got to get better, and that's what I've always tried to do is take the best and learn from them and continue that -- hopefully continue that learning curve and play as well as they, but understanding that's not always going to happen.

Q. The top 10 record now, does that do much for you? I think you broke Bob Charles' mark, I believe.

HALE IRWIN: Really? I'll have to send Charlie Bob a Foster's. (Laughter.) Well, I mean, Bob was a stalwart out here on the Senior Tour/Champions Tour for a long, long, long time, so I feel grateful and honored. At the same time I don't want it to stop. I want it to continue.

Transcript courtesy of ASAP Sports.

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