Reaching New Heights

By Rex HoggardJuly 4, 2009, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. ' If youre having a hard time recognizing Michael Allen dont be alarmed, even those closest to the reluctant senior ' a sprawling group that includes the better part of anyone he has ever met ' may be wondering who this guy is and what did he do with Michael Allen?
The Allen who scorched Congressional for a third-round 65 and the second-to-last tee time on Sunday at the AT&T National bears little resemblance to the guy who lost his PGA Tour card so many times the members at Mesa (Ariz.) Country Club had a gold plate put on his locker that read: PGA Tour Q-School All-Time money winner.
Michael Allen
Michael Allen is trying to add a PGA Tour victory to his Champions Tour major. (Getty Images)
Or the Allen who was so at odds with his chosen profession a few years back he actively pursued a club pro job . . . at one of Donald Trumps courses, no less. Or the guy who figures hes worked his way through 20 or so swing coaches throughout his career looking for answers.
Or the guy who is 0-for-336 over two fruitless decades on Tour.
They said Ive lost 336 times, Allen smiled on Saturday. I guess Im overcoming my fear of losing.
The first sign things were different came in late May, when the young 50-year-old won the Senior PGA Championship in his first over-50 start. Allen was no longer the guy whod made more trips to Q-School than he could count ' Maybe Ive made it to final (stage) 13 times . . . too many . . . its depressing, he said. He was now a major champion.
Some saw the change coming. His caddie Mike Maroney was lured out of retirement by the prospect and swing coach Mike Mitchell had been waiting patiently for what was to come.
His mom once told me he was always a late bloomer, Mitchell said. Hes been grinding it out; its all hes ever done. All he knows.
The Senior PGA was the ultimate litmus test. Leading going into the final round, pressed by proven winners on a demanding golf course and ultimately triumphant ' perhaps the only tonic capable of clearing away 20 years of cobwebs and bad thoughts.
The golf universe doesnt give do-overs, just ask Jean Van de Velde. Allen, however, found himself recharged by his Senior PGA make good, flush with options and places to play and hungry to do what no one has ever done ' win his first Tour event after winning his first Champions Tour tilt.
I was just very comfortable. I was just confident in my game and with the situation and didnt want to accept second place, Allen said. I dont know why, but it made it fun. Im not always fighting myself right now. Im just playing the game.
Honesty has never been a problem for Allen. One of the circuits most likable and endearing players, he is comfortable with the fact that hes been a journeyman on the brink his entire career. And for all that time, nobody has done obscure better. He doesnt have any arrogance whatsoever, Mitchell said. He allowed me to maneuver him into a direction. For a lot of players without that personality it would have been very difficult.
His tie for 14th at last weeks Travelers Championship ' a finish that in the past would have merited a good bottle of Pinot Grigio, a cigar and a late night ' had him worried: Honestly, I was shanking it, he said.
So his caddie put in a call to Mitchell, who teaches out of Mission Hills in Palm Springs, Calif. When Mitchell arrived at Congressional he told Maroney it would take 12 minutes to fix his man. It took him six (minutes), the caddie smiled. There is a comfort level to the new Allen thats born only from experience. For the first time in a career that began in 1988, the father of two is finally comfortable in his Tour skin.
Probably, Allen said. You know what: I play every week because I enjoy playing now. I played the entire West Coast because I love all those tournaments.
The new-look Allen is no longer complicated by doubt or two of the scrappiest decades known to professional golf. Allen 2.0 knows where the ball is going, or how to fix what may be wrong to make it go where he wants it, and can make magic with that broom-handled putter.
Thats the guy his peers probably dont recognize. Outside the ropes, however, Allen is as engaging and genuine as hes always been.
In the wake of his Senior PGA victory, he bought the entire press corps Dom Perignon to celebrate and his caddie a 2009 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob motorcycle.
He also put the lads back at the Armstrong Gun in Sunningdale, England on notice. The Gun was Allens watering hole of choice when he lived in Sunningdale during his European Tour days.
His Senior PGA victory earned him a spot at the Senior British Open, which will be played at Sunningdale July 23-26. Few returns will be as sweet as this one.
The drinks will be flowing again, said Allen, who plans to take a week off after the Senior British and travel Europe with his family.
And what does a senior major winner on the brink of his first Tour victory drink when he returns to an old haunt?
Whatever they have on tap is good for me, Allen smiled.
Some things never change.
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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.