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?
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
Bankrate: How have you invested
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.