Irwin nabs record 44th win at SAS

Updated: October 3, 2005, 8:59 AM ET
Associated Press

CARY, N.C. -- Hale Irwin won for the fourth time this year to push his Champions Tour-record victory total to 44, capping a back-nine run with an eagle in a two-stroke victory over Tom Jenkins and Bob Gilder on Sunday in the SAS Championship.

The 60-year-old Irwin played the back nine in 6-under 31 for a 6-under 66 and a 13- under 203 total on the Prestonwood Country Club course. He birdied Nos. 10, 12, 13 and 15 and reached 13 under with a 25-foot eagle putt from the collar on the par-5 17th.

"The big eagle on 17 was the clincher," Irwin said. "The putt was up against the collar, which is never a good place to be."

The three-time U.S. Open champion started the final round three strokes behind Gilder and four behind second-round leader R.W. Eaks.

"When I made the turn I didn't give much thought to winning because I didn't play that well on the front nine," Irwin said. "But I played No. 10 very well and got a birdie that opened the floodgates and I started putting more aggressively.

"I really didn't know what was going on until I got to 16. Then I saw I had the lead with Bob. I knew something was going to happen in the last two or three holes."

Gilder closed with a 71, and Jenkins shot a 70.

"You expect Hale to play well. When he's putting well, he's tough to beat," Gilder said. "I should be happy with second place but I'm not. I wasn't accurate enough to make a move early in the round. I'm disappointed because I wanted to win."

Craig Stadler, the 2004 winner, shot a 69 to finish fourth at 10 under. Monday qualifier Danny Edwards (71) was 8 under, and Bruce Lietzke (69), Bobby Wadkins (71), Lonnie Nielsen (71) and Gary McCord (72) were 7 under.

Eaks (77) tied for 10th at 6 under.

Charles Schwab Cup leader Dana Quigley had his worst finish of the season, tying for 64th at 11 over after a 72. Former major league pitcher Rick Rhoden, also a Monday qualifier, closed with a 72 to tie for 36th at 2 over.

Irwin earned $285,000 to increase his season total to $1,794,767, only $17,537 behind Quigley for the top spot. Irwin also became a four-time winner in a season for the sixth time in his 10 full years on the Champions Tour.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press