SAN FRANCISCO – Michael Allen grew up 20 minutes from TPC Harding Park in San Mateo and, yes, Tony Bennett, his heart is still in San Francisco.
“I love to play (at Harding Park),” Allen said. “I love to play in this city. I love the color of the grass and I love that I get to hang out in San Francisco with friends.”
Allen moved to the Phoenix area some 22 years ago and now calls Scottsdale his home. Anytime he can play golf in San Francisco makes it a red-circle day. One of the recent highlights of his career was qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club, which is little more than a driver-3 wood south of TPC Harding Park. Allen wanted desperately to play the U.S. Open in his hometown and he did it.
Allen is one of the leading players on the Champions Tour and has been since his arrival in 2009 when, in his debut event, he won the Senior PGA Championship. He is fourth on the Money List and sixth on the Charles Schwab Cup points list, an exceptional year by any measure.
But Allen knows that he’s left something on the table in 2013. He has won twice – the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and the Greater Hickory Kia Classic at Rock Barn – and had seven other top five finishes.
“That’s why this year has been frustrating,” said Allen, who is tied for 19th after three rounds of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on rounds of 68-72-71. “I’ve played nicely but I haven’t capitalized as much as I should have.”
What Allen has going for him as he looks forward to next year is a greater familiarity with the Champions Tour. Professional golfers make adjustments quickly but Allen acknowledged there might have been some he didn’t anticipate.
“I’m finding that out more and more,” he said. “It gets easier and easier for me. Next year I have to do the little things better, pay better attention to the details.”
IN GOOD COMPANY: What separates the Champions Tour from others? For Freddie Couples, it’s the guys he gets to play with.
“It's the best thing about the Champions Tour, to be quite honest,” Couples said. “The best thing is the pairings. We all get great pairings Friday and then you go by score, so if you're playing well you're going to get the Tom Lehmans and Tom Watsons and the Corey Pavins and the Bernhard Langers and (Sunday) I get Mark O'Meara. It couldn't be any better for me.”
HALL OF FAME PREDICTION: More from Couples, who was in rare form after his Saturday 68. He said O’Meara deserves to get into the World Golf Hall of Fame someday but it won’t be next year.
“Because (Colin) Montgomerie and I started to make them think a little bit so they're taking the year off. But yeah, I would think he would be the next year. And then the other guy, probably Davis Love, pops into mind. But yeah, (O’Meara) is definitely a Hall of Famer.”
Couples and Montgomerie were in the WGHOF Class of 2013.
HIGH FIVE: Couples’ 5-stroke lead after three rounds is the largest in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship since John Cook led by six strokes after 54 holes of the 2009 event at Sonoma Golf Club.
Three other players in Schwab Cup Championship history enjoyed six-stroke leads after three rounds – Jim Albus (1994), Jim Colbert (1995) and Jay Haas (2005). Last year after three rounds at Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, AZ, Tom Lehman led Couples by one stroke and went on to defeat Haas by six strokes.
-- After returning last night from Phoenix where he witnessed his son Thomas play his final regular-season high school football game, defending Schwab Cup Championship champion Tom Lehman fired a 6-under-par 65, the low round of the day, and moved up eight spots into a T4 in this year’s event. Lehman flew privately back home to Arizona last night after his round.
-- Fred Couples and Mike Goodes are the only two players in the field with three rounds in the 60s at TPC Harding Park. Since the tournament became a 72-hole affair in 1994, only 13 players have posted four straight rounds in the 60s with four professionals doing so last year at Desert Mountain. Five of the 13 professionals have won the event – Jim Thorpe (2007), Andy Bean (2008), John Cook (2009, 2010) and Tom Lehman (2012).
-- On the 2013 Champions Tour, just one of the previous five 54-hole leaders has gone on to win and that was David Frost at the Regions Tradition.
-- In the previous 23 Charles Schwab Cup Championships, players leading or tied for the lead heading into the final round have gone on to win the tournament 13 times, including each of the last two years. During the years from 1990-1993 (54-hole event), Saturday leaders/co-leaders went on to win three of the four events. Since going to 72 holes in 1994, players who led or shared the lead after 54 holes went on to win 10 of 19 tournaments, including seven of the last 11 winners – Tom Watson (2002), Jim Thorpe (2003/2006), Andy Bean (2008), John Cook (2009), Jay Don Blake (2011) and Tom Lehman (2012). The winner of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship has also come from the last group in the last five years.
-- On Saturday with cooler temperatures and a little more wind, the field scoring average was 70.033 and 13 players had rounds in the 60s. Yesterday, the field scoring average was 70.467 with 11 scores in the 60s. On Friday with perfect scoring conditions at the par-71 TPC Harding Park, the field averaged 69.133 with 16 scores in the 60s.
-- For the first three rounds, the par-3 8th hole has played as the most difficult (3.211), yielding just two total birdies (Craig Stadler/Rd. 1, Corey Pavin/Rd. 2). Fred Funk made a hole-in-one at No. 8 on Saturday. Five of the seven total eagles made in this event have come at the par-5 9th hole (4.433) and 47 birdies have been made there, making it the easiest for the week.
-- Rocco Mediate (66) and Tom Pernice (69) had the only bogey-free rounds today.
-- There were only two eagles (Kirk Triplett/No. 9, Kenny Perry/No. 9) made at TPC Harding Park today running the total number of eagles for the week to seven. Chevron is making an $10,000 donation for every eagle made this week through their Eagles For Education program. Each eagle will provide funding for 1000 kids to participate in The First Tee of San Francisco program for a year. The Eagles For Education program is in effect at several other PGA TOUR and Champions Tour events during the season.
-- With daylight savings time ending Sunday morning, players will tee off an hour later for the final round.