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Toshiba Senior Classic Golf: Irwin wins in record pace

March 11, 2002

Richard Dunn

NEWPORT BEACH - With a veteran group of golfers chasing him, Hale

Irwin took on all comers Sunday at Newport Beach Country Club and

disappeared from the field to win the eighth annual Toshiba Senior

Classic in record fashion.

Irwin, the greatest player in the history of the Senior PGA Tour in

terms of tournament titles (34) and all-time earnings (over $14.6

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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

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