Michael Allen wins Senior PGA in tour debut

By Associated PressMay 24, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Senior PGA ChampionshipBEACHWOOD, Ohio ' Journeyman pro Michael Allen ended his long victory drought with two late birdies Sunday, shooting a 3-under 67 to hold off Larry Mize by two shots and win the Senior PGA Championship.
 
Allen, who had never won in two decades on the PGA Tour, finished first in his seniors debut. Its the first major of the year for players over 50 years old.
 
After hitting close on the 18th hole, he mugged for a camera and said, About friggin time! while laughing.
 
MIchael Allen
Michael Allen proudly displays his first trophy on either the PGA Tour or Champions Tour. (Getty Images)
Allen had earlier rounds of 74, 66 and 67 to finish at 6-under 274.
 
Bruce Fleisher had a 67 to finish third. Tom Watson, who began the day seven strokes behind Allen, had the low round of the day ' a 66 ' and was fourth.
 
Allen became only the fourth player to win a major championship in his Champions Tour debut, joining Roberto De Vicenzo (1980 U.S. Senior Open), Arnold Palmer (1980 Senior PGA Championship) and Jack Nicklaus (1990 Tradition).
 
Allen drilled a long drive into the fairway on the last hole. His 55-degree wedge approach landed just short of the flag and spun back a few feet below the hole. Needing only a two-putt to win, he rolled in the birdie putt and was embraced by his caddie, family and friends.
 
Allen collected $360,000 for his first win of any kind since the 1998 Greater Austin Open on the Nationwide Tour. His only other win came in the 1989 Bells Scottish Open on the European Tour.
 
But he had never won since joining the PGA Tour in 1988 and playing fulltime for 12 seasons. He had played a dozen regular tour events this year, his best finish being a tie for 22nd at the AT&T Pebble Beach.
 
His biggest paycheck was $648,000 for finishing second at the 2007 Turning Stone Resort Championship.
 
He had received a special exemption to play in the Senior PGA and bypassed the Byron Nelson on the PGA Tour.
 
Allen, who began the day with a one-stroke lead on Tom Kite and Jeff Sluman, had a double-bogey and four bogeys in his first-round 74 but was 9 under with just two bogeys over the next 49 holes as he climbed the leaderboard. Long and accurate off the tee, he seldom found trouble and relied on a steady short game around the high rough and quick greens at stately old Canterbury Golf Club in suburban Cleveland.
 
Sluman closed with a 73 and was at 281 along with club pro Chris Starkjohann (70), Fred Funk (70) and Gil Morgan (73). Defending champion Jay Haas had a 69 and led the pack at 282. Kite was never able to mount much of a threat and closed with a 75.
 
A two-shot swing at the par-4 12th hole ' Allen holing a 6-foot birdie putt and Mize bogeying after hitting into the deep rough off the tee ' put Allen ahead. He quickly gave away the advantage when he was too cautious when hitting a wedge from behind the green and made bogey at the 14th.
 
At the par-5 15th, Allen drove into the deep hay left of the fairway and had to power a long iron underneath an overhanging tree to get back to the fairway. From there he chipped to 10 feet right of the hole and confidently rolled in the birdie putt to grab the lead for good.
 
He still wasnt in the clear, however. He hit a lengthy drive on the 616-yard signature 16th, then elected to go for the green. His 3 wood went through the landing area and ended up in the thick rough on the upslope to the green. But he chipped to 15 feet and barely missed the birdie putt, tapping in for par.
 
Mizes long uphill birdie putt at the par-3 17th ' the toughest hole on the course ' burned the edge, leaving him a shot back.
 
He drove down the middle at the uphill par-4 18th, moments before Allen, who was playing in the final group behind him, stepped to the tee at 17. Allens long iron to the raised green was on line but bounded to the back fringe. He ran his first putt a few feet past, but rapped in the comebacker for par.
 
Mizes second shot to the 18th came up short and right. He elected to putt and rammed the 70-footer some 15 feet by. Then he calmly rolled in the par putt to remain within a shot.
 
Watson birdied four of the first eight holes to get to even par for the tournament, causing some rumblings in the large gallery following him. But two bogeys early on the back nine cost him, even though he hit to 3 feet on the final hole for his sixth birdie.
 
Fleisher, five years removed from his last win on the Champions Tour, played the final 14 holes at 4 under.
 
Related Links:
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.