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Irwin Breaks Record at Ameritech

July 17, 1998

LONG GROVE, Ill. (AP) _ Hale Irwin birdied the 18th hole to finish a 10-under 62 Friday, setting a course record and tying the Ameritech Senior Open tournament record.

Riding a hot putter to nine birdies through the first 12 holes, it wasn’t a matter of if Irwin would break the record at Kemper Lakes Golf Club, but only by how much.

``I would take today’s putting round over just about anything I’ve had in a long time,″ said Irwin, whose shaky putter cost him the Senior Players Championship last weekend.

``Maybe the moons and stars were in the right alignment,″ he said. ``Maybe tomorrow they’ll be all mixed up, I don’t know. It was kind of a serene environment to play in, and you’re not always in that state of mind.″

Joe Inman, who qualified for the Senior PGA Tour last year after 11 years away from competitive golf, was three strokes behind Irwin with a 65. Hugh Baiocchi was at 66, and Al Geiberger, David Lundstrom, Mike McCullough and Bruce Summerhays shot 68s.

Defending champion Gil Morgan, who beat Irwin by three strokes last weekend, was seven back Friday at 69.

Irwin, who has already won three events this season, could tell early on he had a special round going. His putter carried him the entire day, starting with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 No. 1.

He birdied Nos. 3-6 and No. 8, and then flirted with a bogey on the ninth. Irwin put his second shot in the right-hand bunker, but he blasted out to within six feet of the hole, sinking his putt to save par.

After birdies on the first three holes of the back nine, Irwin couldn’t help but get a little excited. He’s shot 62 two other times on the senior tour _ and a 61 on the PGA Tour _ and he wondered if maybe, just maybe, this would be the day he broke 60.

It wasn’t to be. His 15-foot putt on No. 15 stopped about an inch short of the hole, and a 10-footer on No. 17 rolled about six inches past the cup.

On No. 18, Irwin’s second shot went straight at the pin and looked as if it might even drop in before rolling about six feet by. He smiled as the putt dropped in to put him 10-under, and the gallery broke out in a loud cheer.

Irwin’s only real mishap of the day was on the second hole, when he missed a 6-foot birdie putt.

Inman, becoming more comfortable with every tournament he plays, came on strong on the back nine. After sinking a 20-foot putt to birdie No. 10, he had birdies on Nos. 12, 13, 15 and 16. He finished with a birdie on No. 18.

``All the putts I had been missing lately went in on the back nine,″ Inman said. ``I’ve been putting great, but they haven’t gone in lately.″

Despite his solid round, Inman said he’s not even thinking of winning the tournament. That’s for guys like Irwin and Morgan to worry about, he said.

``They’re playing one tournament and we’re all playing another,″ Inman said.

Divots: Irwin set another course record with his 62 at Tanglewood in the second round of last year’s Vantage Championship. He shot a 62 earlier this year in the third round of the Toshiba Senior Classic, which he won. ... So much for Kemper Lakes pro Emil Esposito having the home-course advantage. Esposito had a double bogey and two triple bogeys Friday on the way to an 86, which left him next to last in the field and 24 strokes behind Irwin. ``I drove the ball terrible,″ Esposito said. ``It’s the worst driving I’ve had in 10 years. Just terrible.″ At least Esposito bettered his score of 87 in the 1989 PGA Championship, also held at Kemper Lakes. ``One of the guys said, `Don’t quit your day job.′ I won’t,″ Esposito said. ... Lundstrom’s gallery included some of his basketball teammates from Bradley University. Lundstrom, who went to Bradley on a basketball scholarship, averaged 12.3 points in 1969, his senior season.

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