Dublin, Ohio—The Captains Club today announced that World Golf Hall of Famer Hale Irwin, a winner of three U.S. Open championships, has been selected as the Honoree for the 2018 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. Irwin, who celebrated his 72nd birthday last week, is a two-time winner of the Memorial Tournament, in 1983 and ’85, making him one of just six multiple winners in Tournament history.
Also being honored posthumously in 2018 will be two-time major champion Jock Hutchison and Willie Turnesa, widely considered one of the game’s finest amateur golfers.
“I’ve always simply accepted the game for what it’s given me and never assumed anything, so I feel very honored,” Irwin said. “The whole fact that Jack established this Tournament to recognize some of golf’s notable figures means everything. Jack and Barbara are very near and dear to me. I have a hard time putting myself in that category with the greats of the past, so I am absolutely delighted.”
Irwin was born on June 3, 1945, in Joplin, Missouri, but it was in Baxter Springs, Kansas, where Hale and his father spent countless hours on the sand greens at their local municipal golf course. He took up the game at age 4, and it was the work on those sand greens that helped Hale break 70 for the first time at age 14. The Irwin family relocated to Boulder, Colo., where Hale began to star at the prep level in golf, football and baseball. Hale led Boulder High School to a state title in football as their quarterback his senior year, earning him a scholarship to the University of Colorado.
Irwin was a two-sport athlete at Colorado, excelling in golf and football. He graduated in 1967 and decided to pursue a golf career, turning professional a year later. He won his first PGA TOUR event at the 1971 Sea Pines Heritage Classic at Harbour Town Golf Links, the first golf course to be designed by Memorial Tournament Founder and Host Jack Nicklaus.
During his illustrious career, Irwin won three U.S. Opens and 20 PGA TOUR events in all. He played on five U.S. Ryder Cup teams, captained the 1994 U.S. Presidents Cup team, and won a record 45 times on the PGA TOUR Champions to become the most decorated player in the history of senior golf. Leader in career earnings on the PGA TOUR Champions with more than $26 million, Irwin’s success in U.S. Golf Association events carried over to his senior golf career. He won two U.S. Senior Open titles and seven senior majors overall.
Irwin’s record in the U.S. Open also cements his spot among golf’s legends. With 11 years between his second and third titles, he ties Julius Boros for the longest span of years between victories. He is the last winner who received a special exemption (1990), and that same year, he became the last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to force a playoff. His victory at age 45 years and 15 days also makes him the oldest U.S. Open champion. Only Willie Anderson, Bob Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus have more U.S. Open victories.
“Hale was truly one of the great golfers and athletes we ever had playing on the PGA TOUR,” Nicklaus said. “He was a terrific golfer. He always had tremendous integrity. He’s been a terrific family man. Hale has always been one of the purest strikers of the golf ball. You knew when you got to a difficult golf course that Hale Irwin was going to be there somewhere. He was probably the best senior player we’ve ever had on the PGA TOUR Champions.”
Jack Fowler “Jock” Hutchison was born in St Andrews, Scotland, in 1884, where he was trained as a caddie. He immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s, and became a PGA professional in 1919 and a U.S. citizen in 1920. He won the PGA Championship in 1920, and the following year he traveled back to St. Andrews and won the Open Championship, becoming the first U.S.-based player to win the Claret Jug. Hutchison had been playing—and setting records on the Old Course at St. Andrews—with the grooved clubs he had been working on, and the R&A’s Rules of Golf Committee banned such ribbed clubs six days after his historic Open victory. Hutchison competed in 99 PGA TOUR events from 1916-1961 and collected 14 titles. He also won the inaugural Senior PGA Championship in 1937, which was held at Augusta National Golf Club. He won it again a decade later. Augusta National recognized the quality of Hutchison’s career when they made him one of the first two honorary starters of the Masters, along with Fred McLeod. Hutchison served in that role from 1963-73. Hutchison died on Sept. 27, 1977, and was inducted posthumously into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
William P. “Willie” Turnesa was born Jan. 20, 1914, and lived most of his life in Elmsford, New York. Willie was the youngest of the famous golfing Turnesa brothers. Three of the seven Turnesa brothers were top touring pros in the 1930s and ’40s, and Willie, the only brother who did not turn pro, was considered by many to be the best amateur golfer after Bob Jones. Turnesa won the U.S. Amateur championship in 1938 and 1948 and the British Amateur championship in 1947, and he was runner-up in the British Am in 1949. He was a member of three winning Walker Cup teams, in 1947, ’49 and ’51, and also served as captain of the 1951 squad. Willie served as president of both the Metropolitan and New York State Golf Associations in the mid-1950s. At that time, he also co-founded what is now known as the Westchester Golf Association Caddie Scholarship Fund, which has awarded millions of dollars to college-bound students. The Turnesa brothers were once called “the greatest family dynasty in golf history.” Turnesa died on June 16, 2001, in Sleepy Hollow, New York.
About the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide
The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide is held annually at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. The Tournament, founded and hosted by Jack Nicklaus, is conducted each year with three goals in mind: to honor the memory of individuals living and deceased who have distinguished themselves in the game of golf; to showcase the world’s best golfers competing on one of the most challenging venues in the world for the enjoyment of spectators; and to benefit many Greater Columbus Charities in alliance with the Nicklaus Children's Healthcare Foundation, Nationwide Children's Hospital and numerous other local organizations. For more information, visit www.thememorialtournament.com or call 614-889-6700.
Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, commercial, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; banking and mortgages; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.
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Thomas P. Sprouse
Director of Communications,
the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide
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