What they said: Hale Irwin

June 30, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Montreal Championship: Transcript archive

DAVE SENKO: Hale, thanks for joining us, you came off a T-10 last week, which ties you with Bob Charles for the most Top-10s in Champions Tour history. Your thoughts coming into this week?

HALE IRWIN: The last several years have not been what I think I'm still capable of accomplishing, but I think you have to -- at 66 you have to have some realistic parameters and expectations and perhaps mine have been lofty but they have always been that way.

What I'm trying to do is trying to understand that maybe my body is not going to work quite the way I want it to, but my mind is telling my body sometimes -- and even that maybe it's lack of concentration, but I have had some good tournaments this year. The Senior PGA, I had the lead in the last round all by myself, so I'm capable enough still.

But what I find the hardest thing to do is to maintain that level of, whether it be intensity or that level of concentration, over the same period of time -- there are those times where I'm -- and 15 minutes later I've made a mistake or two and it's caught me.

Last Sunday, specifically now because I'm in New York, I was 6-under through 14 holes and this is a mistake that I think I made, rather than try to get to 7-under, I said, I can -- so that kind of thing that maybe -- that's the kind of thing that's holding me back that I don't play with that same confidence and same conviction and same intensity that I once did.

Having said all, that it's been a long, windy explanation here. I'm trying to cut myself a little bit of slack, and at the same time, still in training if that makes any sense to anyone, because for me, I need to push myself. To achieve I need to push myself and if I back off a little bit -- without backing off. If anyone knows a better formula, let me know about it.

Q. Do you have any long-term plans in golf, playing after you're 70??

HALE IRWIN: I don't have a specific plan. It might happen, but all I know is those bills keep coming in the door and the revenue has got to be there.

Q. Competition seems tougher and tougher each year.

HALE IRWIN: Yeah, those young 50-year-olds, we have seen over the last several years, maybe over the next year or two, a real influx of really good players that have great statistics and great background and tremendous careers and they are coming on to the Champions Tour now, a lot of money and they have made it out there and then freewheeling it. I think they are playing some of their best golf still. And so that has just raised that bar even higher.

Now, the older you get, you don't get quite as higher as you want to, that bar might be out of reach, but it's still within reach, not like it once did. Or perhaps how high I set the bar -- I don't do it anymore but that doesn't mean I can't reach it every now and again.

Q. Do you think a Super Senior circuit is in order-

HALE IRWIN: We had it there for a while. I think it probably got lost in the shuffle. I think that there's -- how long did it end, five years? It got lost in the -- I don't know, if we can have a whole year, maybe just a specific tournament or two along the way.

Q. Do you have some goals that you want to achieve??

HALE IRWIN: Well, I'd like to continue the momentum that I've built up over the last several weeks. I like this golf course. It's not quite the condition we saw last year but in the winter, I think we've seen this throughout the United States, too, the winter was pretty harsh, but that's not an excuse for going out and playing your best golf.

For me certain things I've been working on right now seems like I've been working on it forever but continue trying to thrive to do those things. Again, it's the mind-set to get into the players, the competitor's mind-set and continue those things. And I would say right now that it's working fairly well, but each day you have to tweak it just a little bit. One day is not quite like the other. And to recognize that, I think is one of the objectives. So how am I going to feel tomorrow, how am I hitting the ball, what adjustments can I make without going way out of that box.

But my goals tomorrow really are to -- this sounds very trite, but really, it's just to put it in the fairway on the first hole. I really have always kind of looked at that as very simple, that it I don't have to think about how I'm going to play 13th, or what about this hole. Just put it in the fairway on the first hole.

Q. (Fair to say the past few years have been frustrating)?(Fair to say the past few years have been frustrating)?

HALE IRWIN: The last several years have been frustrating, I would not deny that at all. There have been glimpses of what I still can do I think, but perhaps it's required a bit of an attitude change, an acceptance change. I've just had to modify, because as I said earlier what my mind tells my body to do now doesn't always work the way it once did.

Now, being in sports and being athletics my whole life, I was able to, okay, do this, and I could do that. But now I do this, and there's hesitation, or it doesn't do it at all or it doesn't. I don't know what is going to happen. I've hit some shots over the last couple of years I think, I've never hit one of those in my life, where did that come from. May be the only one I hit, but I do, and there's some shots I try to play and I go, why did you do that. Well, because I wasn't really thinking about it the way I used to.

I think it's maybe just what you call that three-letter word, age.

Q. Have you been asked to captain a Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup Team??

HALE IRWIN: Presidents Cup, yes, I was captain and player in '94, the first, the inaugural. I was never asked to be in The Ryder Cup.

Q. Would you like to now??

HALE IRWIN: Yes, at one stage I would have liked to have been.

Q. Now??

HALE IRWIN: Well, I'm not certain I know the players -- I think I know the game better than I've ever known it. But like we were talking about earlier, like an opinion; if the players want someone like me as a captain, then yes, would I consider it. But if they don't want someone like me, then no, I don't want to waste their time nor mine. But if the players have a say -- well, I don't know. The PGA has always been the ones and they kind of have their formula to pick. And I think when it was prime for me to be picked, and I wasn't, and that's fine, just go on and do my own thing.

Q. It's not a disappointment in terms of things in your career that you've accomplished over the years??

HALE IRWIN: I don't look at it as that as all. It wasn't my choice, let's put it that way. It's not like I chose to do it or didn't choose to do it. I never had that choice. I can't look at it as disappointing. I was fortunate enough to play on five teams and had a reasonably good career, and played for five great captains, 5-0, and I really enjoyed those experiences.

Q. What if someone were to put your name forward??

HALE IRWIN: We'd have to see. It' a whole different set of priorities now. I don't know how old you are. Let's call you 25, or you're 40 or you're 66, you have a whole spectrum of things that are different from here to here, and here to here, and your priorities change. So rather than trying to raise a family or start a family, you have grand kids and you just have different things going on in your life.

And those things are important at all stages, but right now, I'm looking to enjoy things and I don't know how much enjoyment I would have trying to captain 12 people that I don't know. Well, I know them but I don't know them. As a fellow player I don't know them. I know them as a fellow professional. I've seen them on TV. I'm walking around Congressional a couple weeks ago, and I don't know anybody. I'm looking at the bags like everybody else trying to figure what their names are. I know my son, he's the only guy I really cared about, but I don't know those people.

I think that part of being that captain is knowing who they are and what buttons to push. But basically, it still comes down to playing golf. It doesn't matter in my mind, at least the teams I was on, the captain could have picked anybody and put them in any slot without making this big organizational chart and stuff that they seemingly do now to figure the best combinations. Just go out and play your best golf, you're good enough to win. Pretty simple.

Q. When you have a lapse on the course, do you know why it happens??

HALE IRWIN: It's from a lack of confidence. There was at one point in time where I displayed, every situation, I was confident I would come out favorably, but for whatever reason, I think I still have those moments but there's moments I have a little bit of doubt, anxiety. And just not as -- because my body, again, it doesn't -- it's not producing shots the way it once did with the regularity.

So I kind of have to step back and say, wait a minute, if there's water over there or trouble over there, and I kind of had that issue, what do I have to do. Well, years past, it was -- ignore the trouble and hit your shot. So now it just maybe more has to go into it and that makes it a little more complex rather than just being a simple formula.

I throw that out, sounds good, print it, if not, come back to me, we'll try something else, I'm not sure.

Q. So does it make success at this stage of the game more enjoyable?

HALE IRWIN: Absolutely. I feel like I'm in a re-learning curve sort of, and that's kind of exciting. Not that I got bored, I never got bored, but I think there's a point in time where the status quo changes almost every day, but for me, I think I've needed challenges and this is definitely a challenge now.

Now, whether or not I can rise to that occasion as I once did, remains to be seen. Therein lies, even if it's a fabricated one, if I have to make it up each day, even if it's something to look forward to -- I like to use the analogy, if you're on a merry go round and reaching for that brass ring, each time if you grabbed it easily it would not be a challenge anymore. But if you have to reach for it and finally grab it, well, that was a lot of effort to get it and the next step, a little more. In other words, trying to push it. That's the way I've responded and maybe other people don't, but I think I know what I had to do to make that leap.

Q. Talking about this tournament --

HALE IRWIN: Last year was a fantastic, and I think one of the best tournaments on the Champions Tour last year. Great crowd participation, wonderful golf course, the reception we had here was major. It was a Major League, major event on our Champions Tour. All of the players were very receptive to this event.

I think a lot of players that intended to play, for whatever reason can't, so I think just look at your field and you'll see that this is an event that stands out amongst the players. Word-of-mouth has gotten out. This is a great event in which to play.

DAVE SENKO: Some injuries; Couples, Funk, Loren Roberts.

HALE IRWIN: Yeah, Loren withdrew last week. Those things happen. But for the most part, the field, probably had they not withdrawn, could not be better.

Q. When you say "word-of-mouth," what are guys saying??

HALE IRWIN: Very positive. We all love to play in front of people. We love that. And the people that came here last year and for that matter, today in the Pro-Am, it's great. I mean, that's what you love to do. You love to go out and participate. And the Champions Tour is probably a little bit more participatory amongst gallery and players than perhaps the regular tour might be. I think there's some interplay and the players appreciate the people coming out and they appreciate being recognized. The fans know generally who you are. They have some history from which to draw some fan base.

It's fun. It was a very, very positive event last year and I don't know how it can't be this year either. I think it will be a great event. I enjoyed the Pro-Am today. Lousy weather, wonder. People to play with -- it's always the people. We have tournaments, if you put a bag over all the heads of the tournaments and you couldn't identify who they are, which ones would you like to play in -- well, the stops where the people make it that way, and this is one of those places. The people here have done a fabulous job of hosting this event. That's why we're here.

Q. Are you planning on playing a full schedule this year??

HALE IRWIN: Feels like it's full already. Yes. Well, I am not going to play in the Senior British, simply because I just don't -- I'd love to. I played in The Ryder Cup when we played there long ago. I would love to go over, but I have other things -- these priority things we are talking about. I have other things to do.

Other than that, Korea is probably not going to be -- my wife and I, that's our anniversary and I promised her a trip to Hawai'i, so we are going to go to Hawai'i. Golf is expanding worldwide and I think the Champions Tour has expanded and perhaps there are other places we can expand. It's been a long way to go. So do I choose Korea or spending the 43rd anniversary with my wife? I think I'd better -- I had to do quick math.

DAVE SENKO: Thank you.

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