Golf | Allianz Championship

Michael Allen fires ‘amazing’ 60 to take lead at Allianz Championship

 

Michael Allen tied the Champions Tour record with a 60 to take a three-shot lead after the first round of the Allianz in Boca Raton.

 
Michael Allen is pictured. He shot 60 on Friday to take the lead at the Allianz Championships.
Michael Allen is pictured. He shot 60 on Friday to take the lead at the Allianz Championships.

Special to the Miami Herald

These guys on the Champions Tour are supposed to be old, past their prime and playing the game of golf as part of their final hurrahs.

However, sometimes these players defy age and logic.

That’s what Michael Allen did Friday on the first day of the Allianz Championship on The Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton. Allen, 55, shot a 12-under-par 60, which tied the lowest score ever on the Champions Tour and broke the Allianz and Old Course records.

Nine Champions Tour players have shot 60, but only Allen’s came on a par-72 course.

“Amazing,” said Allen, who took off his cap and bowed to the gallery after sinking his final putt.

“When you play a great round like this it seems like everything comes easy,” he added.

Allen’s round certainly had nice symmetry to it: He shot 30 on his first nine holes and 30 on his second nine. Easy to add up, easy to enjoy.

On the back nine, which he played first, Allen eagled the par-5 18th, driving into the right rough, hitting a 6-iron 20 feet from the pin and making the putt. Going back to the front nine, on No. 4, Allen hit a nice drive and was 85 yards from the green but chunked his approach and left it 10 yards off the green. He then hit his next shot thin.

“It one-hopped or two-hopped into the hole for birdie,” Allen said, “and that’s when you know things are going pretty good.”

Allen was asked about being a front-runner and how he would handle it. He responded with a laugh, saying he learned about pressure while on the PGA Tour.

“I was leading Bay Hill, and I was paired with Tom Watson, who was in second,” he recalled. “We get on the tee and they introduce Tom, and they say he’s won so many Vardon Trophies, so many Masters, so many scoring titles. On and on … so long I had to sit down while they did it.

“Then they introduced me: ‘Here is Mike. He’s from Arizona.’ Oh well.”

Friday’s round by Allen, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., was so impressive that his playing partners made a point of not mentioning how he was doing.

“They didn’t talk about it,” Allen said. “It’s like if you have a no-hitter going, nobody talks to you about it. You go sit in a corner.”

How good historically was the round over Broken Sound’s 6,807-yard course?

This good. In PGA history, on any tour, the lowest score recorded has been only one shot less. Only six players — Al Geiberger, Chip Beck, David Duval, Paul Goydos, Stuart Appleby and Jim Furyk — have shot 59 in a PGA tournament.

Allen thought about how close he was to joining that group. He smiled and said, “That’s sort of like my career … almost.”

That career includes playing in more than 300 PGA Tour events without a victory, although he has finished second three times. The Champions Tour has been kinder to him with five victories, including a major championship at the 2009 Senior PGA.

Friday’s round gave Allen a three-shot lead over Scott Dunlap, who is from Pennsylvania and is a University of Florida graduate. Dunlap finished his first nine holes (the back nine) at 3-under and then went 6-under for his second nine holes.

Three players were tied for third — the well-known Tom Lehman and lesser-knowns Wes Short and Chien Soon Lu.

Will Allen be able to forget Friday’s 60 and concentrate on the second round when he steps on the tee Saturday?

“I really hope so,” he said. “Unless everybody keeps reminding me.”

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