million), shot 6-under-par 65 in the final round to finish with a
tournament scoring record 17-under 196, topping the previous mark by
three shots (held by George Archer in the inaugural Toshiba Classic in
1995 at Mesa Verde Country Club).
The old record at Newport Beach, where the event has been played since
1996, was held by Irwin at 13-under 200 in 1998, when Irwin shot a
course-record 62 in the final round and received a bonus from the Famous
Bunker Rake to get up and down at the par-3 17.
"That birdie at 16 sealed it, and I didn't need a rake this year at 17
to help me," quipped Irwin, whose tee shot at 17 four years ago rolled
off the green and headed for the water, but was kept dry when a bunker
rake stopped his ball.
Down the stretch Sunday, Irwin nailed a 5-iron at the par-4 16, which
rolled to within three feet of the pin and set up his sixth of seven
birdies on the day as he became the tournament's first two-time champion
with a 67-64-65--196.
Irwin's margin of victory, five strokes, was also a tournament record
-- shattering the previous mark of two shots set by Jim Colbert in '96.
"I've played so well over the last four tournaments," said Irwin, who
has two titles and a pair of runner-up finishes on his 2002 resume, with
his age, 56, a non-issue while taking over the top spot on the Senior
Tour money list.
"That was nice of Tom (Kite) to lay low this week," Irwin said of the
tour's money leader at $608,600 coming into the Toshiba Classic, before
Kite withdrew because of back spasms. "But I hope his back is OK."
Irwin, who pocketed $225,000 for the win before an estimated crowd of
26,000 in ideal conditions, was never really challenged in the final
round, after taking a three-shot lead on Saturday.
Allen Doyle, the 2000 Toshiba Senior Classic champion and last year's
leading money winner on tour, carded his 11th straight sub-70 round in as
many starts at Newport Beach and finished second at 66-68-67-201, the
fourth consecutive year in which Doyle has placed in the top three.
"The scores I get here are like what I get at my home course (in La