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The Tour Report

April 7 2012

3:29 PM

Irwin: 52 isn't too old

By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM correspondent AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Can a 52 year old win a major? A flat-belly major. Since inquiring minds around the globe want to know, we sought out Hale Irwin on the lawn on this sun-splashed Saturday afternoon  to get his thoughts. He said yes. Heading into the weekend, Couples,  has a chance to become the oldest player -- at 52 -- to win a major and the fifth player to win majors 11 years apart. "I played my best golf at 52,'' said Irwin, who was relaxing with wife Sally. "I feel it can be done. He's playing enough golf on the regular tour to keep his mind in this mentality (PGA TOUR).'' Couples shared the second-round lead with Jason Dufner, but started the third round bogey-bogey to fall three shots behind Dufner. Couples won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic on the Champions Tour two weeks ago, then opened with a 67 the Shell Houston Open -- a tournament he won in 2003. A rain-delayed 33 holes on Friday wore him out, but he made the cut and finished T-47. He finished fourth there in 2008 at 48 and was T-3 there in 2009 at 49. In fact, he had four top-10 finishes at age 49. Irwin won 10 times on the Champions Tour when he was 52 (1997) and and seven times at 53. He's one of four players -- Julius Boros, Ben Crenshaw and Henry Cotton are the others -- who won majors 11 years apart. Crenshaw's came here -- in 1994, then again in 1995. Irwin's were U.S. Opens -- in 1979 and 1990. Irwin watched Couples on the putting green more than an hour before his tee time. "I don't know how his back's doing, but he knows the course,'' he said. "But everyone's going to be looking at him wondering if he can win.''