Irwin Leads Nicklaus by One Stroke after Three Rounds
Apr. 07, 1996
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ Hale Irwin responded to Jack Nicklaus' first double eagle in 31 years with a 7-under-par 65 Saturday and took a one-stroke lead after the third round of The Tradition.
Irwin, recovering from a 76 the day before, when erratic winds forced all but a handful of players over par, matched his opening score and finished at 10-under 206.
``I guess there was a little redemption on my part to make sure that the 76 yesterday was a fluke and the 65 on Thursday wasn't,'' said Irwin, the 1995 Senior PGA Tour rookie of the year.
Nicklaus, the defending champion, also shot a 65.
Raymond Floyd, who won this senior major in 1994 and started the round a shot behind J.C. Snead, was third at 208.
Bob Murphy stayed within four shots of the lead, and Isao Aoki was one shot behind him at 211 and one ahead of Tom Weiskopf, a winner last week in San Antonio, Texas.
Snead followed Friday's 69 in tough conditions with a 75 and fell into a four-way tie at 213.
Nicklaus, who has finished first and sixth in two senior events this year, came out of the pack with startling suddenness on the back nine.
Four-under at the turn, he birdied No. 11, then gobbled up Irwin's lead with two monstrous shots on the 12th hole of the Cochise Course, one of four Nicklaus-designed layouts at Desert Mountain.
Nicklaus' 340-yard drive on the short par-5 rolled to the bottom of the fairway, leaving 159 yards to the flag. He pulled out an 8-iron, knocked the ball onto the front of the green, and it rolled in.
It was his third double eagle _ the first came while he was a teen-ager and the second was in the Jacksonville Open in 1965.
Jay Sigel had the last of 14 previous double eagles in Senior Tour history at the Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Nov. 13, 1994.
Nicklaus also two-putted from 16 feet on the last hole for his fifth birdie.
But Irwin, playing in the same threesome, had the nerve it took to withstand Nicklaus' charge.
He was 7-under at No. 11 and two-putted from 20 feet to birdie No. 12 and keep Nicklaus from taking the lead outright. And he got his seventh and eighth birdies on the 15th and 17th holes to pull away from the three-time Tradition winner.