WHEN you’ve spent a lifetime bashing and battering away at a little dimpled ba’ there will inevitably be a few niggles here, the odd hirple there and one or two eye-watering twinges goodness knows where.

With a dedicated, grinding work ethic that's just about left his clubs requiring soothing sessions with the physio, Padraig Harrington was never afraid of the hard yards but the Irishman is well aware that his various cranks and pistons have suffered a bit of wear and tear down the years.

“I’m trying to be a Ferrari when I should be an old Beetle,” he said with a smile after posting a four-under 66 on day one of the Senior Open over the King’s Course at Gleneagles to sit two behind early leaders Stephen Ames and Glen Day. 

“You have to put up with these things when you’re no longer a spring chicken.”

In this generation game, of course, the advancing years have never been a barrier to success. Now a rookie among the golden oldies, Harrington won the US Senior Open last month and is chasing back-to-back majors on the over-50s scene here in Perthshire.

The tireless Harrington, who won a magical haul of three main tour majors in 14 months between 2007 and 2008, has never lost the drive, discipline and desire that has made him a great champion but he now knows he needs to listen to what his body is telling him.

“I have got to be careful I don't overdo the practice,” said the 50-year-old, who would often put in such a relentless shift on the range, even the practice balls developed callouses. “A lot of my injuries came from practicing after rounds when I was tired. I’d be pushing the limits all the time. And now I have a big problem with my leg which is really an issue.”

Harrington marches on, though, and his opening effort on a pleasant day was illuminated by a burst of four birdies in five holes from the ninth. The former Ryder Cup captain was content enough with his score but felt he was a tad timorous at times. “I was very tentative,” he conceded. “I should’ve been a bit more aggressive into the greens.”

Late in the day, Day – how fitting – eagled his last hole in a fine 64 to join Ames, who had set a sprightly standard with a 64 of his own which featured an eagle on the par-5 10th. The 58-year-old finished second in the Senior PGA Championship earlier in the campaign and this neatly assembled round set him up nicely for another assault on a maiden over-50s major crown. “There were no mistakes, I hit lots of fairways, lots of greens and gave myself lots of chances,” he said of a very smooth running day at the office.

Things were far from plain sailing, meanwhile, for the 2016 Senior Open champion Paul Broadhurst as he covered his first five holes in three-over. “A shocker,” said the Midlander. “I was thinking I’d be back down the M6 after five holes.”

Undeterred, Broadhurst mounted the kind of mighty salvage operation that raised the Mary Rose and covered his remaining 13-holes in eight-under during a rousing run that included an eagle on the 14th. An eventual 65 propelled him from the lower reaches into the upper echelons as he finished in a share of third with Jerry Kelly, Kent Jones and Darren Clarke.

“I don't think I've ever shot five-under from being three-over,” said the 2015 Scottish Senior Open champion. “You just have to stick in there.”

Paul Lawrie and Scott Henderson were leading the Scots on one-under while Colin Montgomerie came home in three-under to get back to level-par before darting off to hospital in Dundee to check on a niggling ailment. “It’s bothered me for two years,” he winced.

Those advancing years don’t come alone.