Floodgates open for Allen with Liberty Mutual victoryDavid Frost and Michael Allen closed out their Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf win on a rainy 18th hole.April 22, 2012
John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The proverbial floodgates opened on Michael Allen on the final hole Sunday at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf, when all-day threatening skies finally gave way to a microburst of rain.
An inconvenience, yet somehow appropriate.
The floodgates have opened on Allen's career, as he finished that 18th hole to clinch the Liberty Mutual title alongside teammate David Frost. For the team it was a sweet answer to a year ago, where they finished one shot out of a playoff.
For Allen, it's his second Champions Tour win in as many weeks, after a nearly three-year-long quest to get back to winning form after he won his very first start on the 50-and-over circuit in 2009. And that came after two decades of never winning on the PGA TOUR.
"The last couple years I've played some good golf, but never have been able to win, so last (week) was a big breakthrough," said Allen, 53.
"And then this week I just felt very comfortable personally, and I know I've got one of the toughest competitors out there with David."
At Savannah Harbor Golf Resort, Allen and Frost were flawless in rounds of 62-63-62 in the better-ball format, and spectacular when they needed to be late in the final round. The par-4 14th was set up to tempt players to drive the green, and after Allen blew a 3-wood far right into trees, Frost hit up just short of the green.
Allen chunked his second shot out of the woods and flew his third over the green, leaving it up to Frost to make something happen. Frost did, holing a 40-foot chip to move the team from 27 to 29 under, leapfrogging the team of John Cook and Joey Sindelar for the lead.
The duo parred the last four holes, including the 18th in a downpour, good enough for a one-shot win.
"We played solid golf this year," said Frost, who picked up his second Champions Tour win. "If it wasn't Michael, it was me; if it wasn't me, it was Michael. So we played some great golf at different times every day."
Savannah has always been a special spot for Allen, he proposed to his wife in the city 21 years ago when she was a resident. Now he's got another reason to love it, picking up a third career win.
Following their win at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf, Michael Allen and David Frost met the media.
There was a time he could never have dreamed winning at all, much less three times. He lived the true journeyman's life on the PGA TOUR, surviving qualifying school a record nine times to get his card. That's a dubious record in that he needed to go back to q-school over and over again, picking up just four top-10s in his first 156 starts from 1988-95 before walking away from the game almost entirely.
After a lean 1995 season (21 starts, seven cuts made), Allen reevaluated his career and walked away for a while. He worked as an assistant pro at Winged Foot in New York for a time and then tried his hand at medical sales and stockbroking.
He toiled around the Nationwide Tour for a while starting in 1997, even winning in 1998, but wasn't back on the PGA TOUR again until 2002.
"To be honest with you, I just wasn't very good," Allen said. "I didn't know that much about the golf swing. And I tried as hard as I could, I believed in myself. I wasn't that great at it.
"Then, as you get older in life and you just go through experiences, you just learn that somehow you'll get by."
In his second run on TOUR, he did better than just get by. He had a second-place finish in 2004 at the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro, a million-dollar season in 2007.
In 2009, he turned 50 and ventured out to the Champions Tour and immediately won in his first start, at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship.
With the confidence that he could still play at a top level on the PGA TOUR, he finished second in the 2010 Viking Classic at age 51. He admits that he still has visions of success on TOUR, but doesn't have the status to get into events (he hoped to play next week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans but did not get a sponsor's exemption). He will try to qualify for the U.S. Open at Olympic Club, where he played countless times growing up outside San Francisco.
"In certain spots, certain golf courses, most all of us could be competitive," Cook said. "There's nothing wrong with that, but the more that you know that that's just going over there to have some fun, that this (Tour) is what we do, where we're at."
Allen gets that and has said publicly that his goal is to win the Charles Schwab Cup. He has a big early lead toward that, 350 points over Bernhard Langer.
But that's fun, not the grind that he's known in -- and out -- of golf. Now he advises young players such as Spencer Levin to enjoy it now, like he's enjoying it now, years later.
"Now I realize when I'm out here, I don't have to be here -- I love to be here," Allen said. "I've had some frustrating times and I've had some good ones, now even better."
His floodgates are open. Let it rain.