With Arnie's Army storming the Springhouse Golf Club course, Irwin and his debut got lost in the shuffle. Although he got off on the right foot, making a birdie on the 1st hole, Irwin, who's third on the regular Tour in driving accuracy, didn't drive the ball well. He bogeyed number 4, hitting left into the water, and bogeyed number 18, again hitting too far left. Frustrated throughout his round, he spent a lot of time chatting with Sullivan about his mistakes.
When he finally finished his first round as a Senior, at two-under 70, Irwin forced a tiny smile and gently tipped his visor. Then he turned his back to the gallery, leaned over and angrily jammed his putter into his golf bag. After two press conferences, Irwin headed to the driving range, and half an hour later he was back in the present tense, having put his debut in its proper perspective.
"You just don't say, 'This is the Senior tour,' step on the course and play well," Irwin says. "There are so many different personalities to contend with, different environments to get used to. You have to play three or four months before you're truly comfortable.
"I'm seeing guys in the locker room that I haven't seen in years. I'm playing a course I've never played. I'm staying in a hotel I've never stayed in. I'm in a town I've seldom been in. All day, I'm thinking that I'm playing the second round, when it's the first. There are a whole lot of mental gymnastics that I'm going through. I feel like I've changed time zones.
"Give me time. I'm still a baby out here. I'm not trying to rock my own cradle. I'm just trying to test the waters."