Insider: Pressure to win mounts for Calc, Pavin

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Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
Mark Calcavecchia has four top-fives in 14 tries -- but no wins -- since joining the Champions Tour.
August 03, 2011
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

Michael Allen won his first start on the Champions Tour at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club. The irony, of course, is that Allen has tried for a very long time to win one on the PGA TOUR with no success. Another irony? Allen hasn't won since.

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Corey Pavin (15) and Mark Calcavecchia (13) have combined for 28 victories on the PGA TOUR ... and two majors. They're still trying to win for the first time on the Champions Tour in 54 tournaments between them.

Pavin and Calcavecchia were supposed to have won by now. That they haven't says more about the Champions Tour than it does about them.

It's not easy to win on the Champions Tour. It takes skill and heart and guile. Good timing doesn't hurt, either.

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Pavin, like Calcavecchia, is in his second year on the Champions Tour. His first season was interrupted by his official duties as captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team for last year's matches in Wales. Pavin had three runner-up finishes in 2010 -- two on the Champions Tour at the Senior British Open and The Cap Cana Championship.

The other second-place finish came on the PGA TOUR's Travelers Championship where Pavin lost in a playoff, and that alone would suggest Pavin's fortunes on the Champions Tour would have been more fruitful.

He certainly thought they would be.

"I think probably expectations are a little bit different," Pavin said at last week's U.S. Senior Open. "When I came out on TOUR, I remember the first year I just wanted to finish in the Top 125, that was my goal, and I won the first year. So that was kind of unexpected.

"I'd come out here and, not that I expect to win, but I was certainly hoping to have won by now. It's a little frustrating in that regard. But I've played well. I've played well enough to win a couple tournaments and someone's just beaten me, so in that respect I don't feel so badly ... I just feel like it's a matter of time but when you get to our age, time is important. It's of the essence."

Pavin let one get away last year at the Administaff Small Business Class at The Woodlands but at the Senior British and Cap Cana, he was beaten by the two marquee players on the Champions Tour, Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples.

Allen shares Pavin's sentiment: Frustration.

"I'm certainly a little frustrated by it," Allen said. "I guess the reality is that I played 400 tournaments on TOUR and these same guys beat me all these years, so maybe it's not that much of a surprise. It's frustrating. I feel like I'm playing pretty well and I certainly had a lot of good chances last year. I think I finished second three or four times.

"I still feel like I can win on TOUR. I guess I only have like one or two more chances. But yeah, I am a little frustrated at it, but again, I'm enjoying playing. I've had a lot of fun out here, and I'm enjoying golf more now than I ever have in my life. Frustration comes with it, certainly in my career."

Calcavecchia's disappointments continue to mount. In the last two events, both majors, he was runner-up to Russ Cochran at the Senior British and finished third at Inverness. Good, very good, but still not quite good enough when the goal is to win, not just be close or be good.

"Eventually I'll get one," said Calcavecchia, who already was looking forward to this week's 3M Championship a short time after signing his scorecard at Inverness Club. "I finished second there last year. I like the greens and I am playing well, so I'll just keep trying. It will happen one of these days."

Olin Browne beat his contemporaries Pavin and Calcavecchia to the winner's circle on the Champions Tour by winning the U.S. Senior Open. But it's not just about contemporaries who are capable of playing well and winning. It can be anybody, anytime. A first-timer, like Allen, or a legend, like Hale Irwin.

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Joey Sindelar has 24 top 10 finishes on the Champions Tour. But he, too, is still looking for that elusive first victory after another close call at the U.S. Senior Open. As Sindelar was speaking after the final round at Inverness, he nodded toward Irwin. They shared fourth place at Inverness.

Irwin shot his age, 66, in the third round at the U.S. Senior Open 32 years after winning the U.S. Open on the same course. With his 204th top 10, Irwin set the Champions Tour record, surpassing left-hander Bob Charles.

There was no mistaking the enormous level of respect in Sindelar's words.

"He's 66," Sindelar said. "That is really good. I mean, that's no charity. We're all standing here going, 'I hope I can even walk around this place when I'm 66.' Great going. But that's him. You know, that's the dude."

Right. Irwin is a dude with skill, heart and guile, the things required to win on the Champions Tour.

Champions Tour Insider Vartan Kupelian is a freelance contributor for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR.

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