June 12 2012
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO -- Born in nearby San Mateo, Michael Allen was 7 years old when he made his first visit to the Olympic Club to see the 1966 U.S. Open. He was 14 when his family joined the club. He estimates that he's played 2,000 rounds here, along with countless practice hours -- "many, many hours sweating on, even in this cold temperature," he recalls.
So imagine the feeling for the 53-year-old Champions Tour veteran this week. For the first time in his career, he will tee it up in a major at his home course, numerous friends and family on the other side of the ropes. There may not be a dry eye in the gallery.
"It's going to be one of the greatest moments of my life," Allen said Tuesday.
The oldest player in the 156-man field this week, Allen qualified by claiming one of the seven available spots in sectional qualifying held nearby at Lake Merced and TPC at Harding Park. It's the first time he has played in the U.S. Open since becoming a Champions Tour member in 2009.
Allen has won twice on the Champions Tour this year and ranks third in Charles Schwab Cup points. But even though no player in the field has more experience playing this course than he does, Allen doesn't put much stock in his ability to be a contender on Sunday.
"Who has a chance to beat me?" he asked. "Oh yeah, everybody in the field."
That's why you get the sense that just teeing off on Thursday is all that matters. Anything else would be gravy.
"It's probably going to be the first time I'm going to be extremely nervous teeing off," Allen said. "It's just going to be fulfilling for me, a life-long dream. ...
"I always loved playing in this championship but to play here is what makes this so extremely special for me. I've grown up here."