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1979


Hale Irwin

Hale Irwin, 34, of Frontenac, Missouri became the 14th player to win the Open Championship more than once. Irwin won with a score of 284 for 72 holes, even par, at Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio. Two strokes behind, at 286 were Gary Player and Jerry Pate, two former Open Champions. Irwin had rounds of 74-68-67-75. Five players shared the first round lead with 70, one under par. They were Lou Graham, 1975 Open Champion, Andy Bean, Tom Purtzer, Keith Fergus, and Lon Hinkle. At 71 were Pate, Jim Colbert, Larry Nelson, Dana Quigley, Bill Rogers, Tom Weiskopf, and Amateur Champion John Cook.

After 36 holes, Nelson and Purtzer, with second-round scores of 68 and 69 respectively, shared the lead at 139. Irwin began the second round by holing birdie putts of 15 and 12 feet on the first two holes. He added birdies on the 10th, 11th, and 12th holes to go five under par for the day, but he lost strokes at both the 16th and 17th holes and finished with 68, three strokes behind the leader at 142.

In the third round, Irwin took the lead when he shot 67, giving him a 54-hole score of 209,three strokes ahead of the field. Weiskopf, who had 74 in the second round, came back with a 67 and moved into second place with a 212 score. Tied for third place at 214 were Purtzer, who dropped back with 75, and Pate who moved into contention with 69. Irwin had built his lead to four strokes over Weiskopf through 12 holes of the third round. On the 13th hole, a par 5, Weiskopf played a 4-iron second shot just eight feet from the hole and scored an eagle 3. Irwin, playing directly behind him, then played a 2-iron shot that came to rest just three feet from the hole. He matched Weiskopf's eagle.

In the last round, Pate and Purtzer, playing together in the next to last group, made early runs at the lead, but eventually fell out of contention. Irwin, paired with Weiskopf in the final group, played the first nine in 35. On the second nine he drove into the rough four times but, after 16 holes, he was five strokes ahead of both Weiskopf and Player. On the 17th hole, he hit his second shot into a greenside bunker, played his bunker shot over the back of the green, chipped back to 12 feet and two-putted for a double-bogey 6.

Weiskopf bogeyed the 17th hole to pick up only one stroke. With one hole to play, Irwin led Player, who had finished with a 68, and Pate by three strokes and Weiskopf by four. Both Player and Pate had birdied the 18th hole. Irwin pushed his tee shot into the right rough and then pulled his approach into the left greenside bunker. He played a fine bunker shot to within six feet of the hole and two-putted for a bogey 5 to win the Championship.

Sixty professionals and three amateurs made the 36-hole cut at 151, nine over par. Fred Couples was the low amateur with a 302 total. Prize money reached a record $330,4000 with $315,400 awarded in the Championship proper and $15,000 in the Sectional Qualifying Championships. The 4,853 entries were short of the record of 4,897 for the 1978 Open Championship.

OPEN RECORDS


Starts - 34

Best Finish - Won in 1974, '79 & '90

Rds - 120

Cuts Made - 27

Top 3 - 4

Top 5 - 5

Top 10 - 7

Top 25 - 13

Avg. - 73.02

Scores In 60s - 16

Rds Under Par - 22

Earnings - $516,428.85