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Hale Irwin sets sights on another US Open title

Hale Irwin has been hanging around Bellerive so much the past few days, you'd think he was a full-fledged member. Irwin, who has been playing practice rounds on the course for the past three days, readily acknowledged he is especially pleased the U.S. Senior Open week has arrived.

"Let's just say since I found out that this event was going to be held at Bellerive a few years ago, I'm glad to get the week here," said Irwin, who signed so many autographs after his round that his thumb was cramping.

The USGA open championships have been a big part of Irwin's career. He won three U.S. Opens on the regular tour. The last, 1990 at Medinah, resurrected his career at the age of 46. He has gone on to become the most dynamic performer in Champions Tour history, winning 40 times. Two of those victories have been in the U.S. Senior Open.

"It's accurate to say the USGA events, specifically the Open events, have defined my career," Irwin said. "It would be really neat to balance it out with three on one side and three on the other."

Irwin already won a senior major this season, capturing the Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in May. He turned 59 three days later. At this point, he's not sure how many more times he will be in contention for a Senior Open title. Bellerive represents a prime chance.

"I don't know if there is a sense of urgency," he said. "When you turn 50, there's a sense of urgency about a lot of things. I don't know how many of these I have left, it depends on what I am able to do physically. They only play one a year, so you're limited in the number of chances you have that way. But, knock on wood, I'm playing pretty well this year, so we'll see."

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