HOOVER, Ala. -- Hale Irwin thought about going for it on the final hole. It wasn't that he needed the birdie, he just wanted to avoid the monotony of three straight rounds of 7-under-par 65.
In the end, Irwin settled for par and a four-stroke victory over Stewart Ginn in the Bruno's Memorial Classic on Sunday, shattering the tournament record with a 21-under 195 and just missing the senior tour record.
Raymond Floyd finished 22-under par at the 1993 Gulfstream Aerospace Invitational. This was Irwin's second 21-under performance and the fourth overall.
Told of his near-miss, Irwin smiled and pointed to his $210,000 winner's check and the crystal vase that will go into his wife's collection.
"I'll take this check and this little piece of crystal. Somebody else can have the record," said Irwin, who began the round tied with Gil Morgan at 14-under.
Even the three-time U.S. Open champion was impressed with his pristine performance.
"Three 65s, it's pretty amazing golf," said Irwin, who claimed his 31st senior victory. "I just hit some really wonderful golf shots."
Still, he was tempted to go for birdie on the 18th, where he had an eagle and a birdie in the first two rounds.
"I told my caddy, 'I'd really like to birdie this hole just to break the 65, 65, 65," said Irwin, who laid up anyway for par.
His 195 total was six shots better than the previous tournament record set by Jim Dent in 1994 and matched by Graham Marsh in 1995.
Irwin had eagles on Friday and Saturday and his only bad hole was a bogey on the seventh hole of the first round.
Australia's Stewart Ginn closed with a 67 to finish second, four shots behind Irwin. It was his best showing as a senior, topping two previous third-place finishes.
Ginn didn't have a bogey in the final round.
"I thought if someone could shoot 16 under, it would be good enough," said Ginn. "To push (Irwin) like that, I'm very pleased."
Morgan shot a 72, hitting two shots into the water on the 18th hole for a double bogey. Irwin took the lead with a birdie and Morgan's bogey on the eighth hole, then padded it to three strokes with two birdies in the next three holes.
"Any time you make a two-shot swing, it's critical," said Morgan, who lost a playoff to John Jacobs in last year's tournament.
Irwin returned from a 91-minute rain delay with a short birdie putt on the 12th and played conservatively with four straight pars to close the round.
"It's kind of fun to play the last few holes with that kind of lead," Irwin said.
Tom Kite and Allen Doyle tied for third at 15-under, both shooting 68 on the final round.
Kite holed a 40-foot bunker shot for eagle on the 18th.
Irwin has four straight top-three finishes, and has at least two victories in seven straight years.
Kite was a popular figure on the course. His daughter Stephanie is a gymnast at the University of Alabama. "Roll Tide," said a fan as Kite left the 18th ... The 18th is Morgan's albatross, costing him first place with a bogey on Saturday and the playoff last year. He refused to sign the ball after a fan went into the water to get it on the 18th.
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