Hale S. Irwin (born June 3, 1945) is an American professional golfer. He is one of the few players in history to have won three U.S. Opens and was one of the world's leading golfers for much of the 1970s and 1980’s. He has also developed a career as a golf course architect.
Irwin was born in Joplin, Missouri, but was raised in Baxter Springs, Kansas. He graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1967, where he was a two-time All-Big Eight defensive back, as well as an academic All-American in football. He won the individual NCAA Division I Championship in golf in 1967 and turned professional the following year.
Irwin had 20 victories on the PGA Tour beginning with the 1971 Sea Pines Heritage Classic and finishing with the 1994 MCI Heritage Golf Classic, and won prize money of just under six million dollars. His 1994 Heritage win at the age of nearly 49 made him one of the oldest winners in Tour history. He also won two Piccadilly World Match Play Championships at Wentworth in the 1970’s. His successes kept him ranked high among his peers - he was ranked among the top five in McCormack's World Golf Rankings in every year from 1975 to 1979, inclusive. He ranked in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings for a few weeks in 1991.
Irwin played on five Ryder Cup teams: 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, and 1991.
Irwin's first U.S. Open triumph came at Winged Foot in 1974, and he added a second in 1979. The next month, he came to the final round of The Open Championship with a two-shot lead, but was thwarted in his attempt at an historic double by the incredible recovery play of Severiano Ballesteros. In 1983, Irwin had another close tilt at the Open, but lost by a shot, after whiffing on a very short putt during the third round of play. He was rarely on leaderboards from then for most of the rest of the 1980’s, but enjoyed an incredible swansong in 1990, capped by his third U.S. Open victory, which came in a playoff against Mike Donald which Irwin had only joined after holing an improbable 45-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole.
Irwin qualified to play on the over-50 Champions Tour (formerly the Senior PGA Tour) in 1995 and has enjoyed even greater success at this level than he did on the PGA Tour. He has won 45 Champions Tour titles and tops the all-time Champions Tour money list with earnings of over USD $23 million. He was the winner of the U.S. Senior Open in 1998 and 2000.
Irwin was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1992.
In 2000, Irwin was ranked as the 19th greatest golfer of all time by Golf Digest magazine.
Irwin is the uncle of Heath Irwin.