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Fame & Fortune
Hale Irwin
Hale Irwin
College football star chose career busting par, not heads.
Celebrity interview

Cautious, but shoots for pin if time's right

Bankrate: Do you remember the moment you felt you'd arrived as a pro?

Irwin: I think it was that 1970 L.A. Open that I lost in a playoff to Billy Casper. I had a two-shot lead with four holes to play and made some mistakes coming in and allowed Billy to tie me. From that point on, I felt like maybe it's not such a bad deal. That gave me a little boost of confidence. But certainly that first tournament win is huge, as it was for me.

Bankrate: You've been known as the golfer who excels when conditions get tough. Do you attribute that to your athletic training?

Irwin: I kind of harken back to those situations playing football. I was always kind of undersized, undermanned, and I felt like I played above my physical presence. I had to do things better than the guy opposite me. I didn't have great speed; I had quickness in short distances, which is primarily what football is, but if I got in a footrace with anybody, probably in the long run I would lose. My position was such at weak-side safety that I had a lot of territory to cover, but if I read my keys well and did what I was supposed to do and read the quarterback's eyes and followed the ball, it was OK. I refer to that simply because I think that helped me win at Winged Foot. I think Winged Foot was just such a difficult golf course for any of us that well over 50 percent of the field just gave up before it even started. That wasn't an uncommon situation for me to look at something that was bigger and better than I was. That training ground on the football field helped my discipline, helped my desire, and I think I've always had that competitive instinct.

Bankrate: How have you invested your money?

Irwin: I have a golf course design and development business and my son is with me now and I'm trying to help him as much as anything. But I think the investments I've made and the direction in which I've tried to go are pretty much like the way I play. My temperament is such that I try to "read" the market, even though I'm not a market analyst. I try to get a pulse of what's happening, because let's face it, where I go each week, I'm around successful people all the time. Whereas I may not know how to talk to people at FedEx or Charles Schwab or some of our great sponsors about their businesses, you're around their clients, you get a feeling for what's happening, and you can hear conversations they have. It' not stock tips; it's kind of the pulse of America.

I'm not an expert. I don't pretend to be an expert. I don't rush to the Journal to see what's happening to my stocks. I don't rush into any investment; I leave it up to others, and if I have an idea, I talk it over with my investment counselors and they look it up and then we decide. I'm conservative, but I don't mind the aggressive play every now and again. It's just like the way I play: I'll shoot at a pin if I have a good lie and it's accessible and I feel like now is the time. I'll shoot at the pin. But there are times when I shoot at the fat of the green and let's not be stupid here.

Next: "Not everybody ... can push themselves to their limits."
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