A year ago at this time, Michael Allen stepped up to the first tee on The Old Course at Broken Sound, not expecting too much from himself.
The sun was shining and he was on a golf course, and that was enough to make him happy as the Allianz Championship got under way.
Little did he know he was about to flirt with history.
Allen, now 56, shot a 12-under-par 60, one stroke off golf’s official record of 59 during a PGA Tour competition. Those who have accomplished shooting 59 are Al Geiberger (1977), Chip Beck (1991), David Duval (1999), Paul Goydos (2010) and Stuart Appleby (2010).
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Allen comprehends that it would be folly to think about that 60 of a year ago as he tees off Friday in the 2015 Allianz. He knows all-too-well the game of golf is one of looking forward rather than backward.
However, he hasn’t made his first shot in this year’s tournament, and he was more than willing to talk about that 60.
“After I did it,” Allen said with a smile, “everybody was talking about how close I was to 59. I tell them it was the first time I ever really thought about shooting 59 in my life . . . except for trying to shoot 59 for nine holes when I was a kid.
“Seriously, the 60 was a great start for me.”
With that 60 in hand, Allen held the lead or was tied for it all three days of the tournament, eventually winning a two-hole playoff with Duffy Waldorf.
The victory was a relief for Allen.
“I certainly didn’t want to be known as the guy that nearly shot 59 and didn’t win,” he said.
Some people have a mid-life crisis at age 50 or thereabouts, but Allen has had a mid-life rejuvenation, winning seven times on the Champions Tour.
He has played just about every golf tour you can name — European, PGA, Nationwide and Champions, to name just a few — after he turned professional in 1984.
His stint on the PGA Tour was, to put it in polite terms, nondescript. Playing in some 300 PGA events, he never had a victory. He had to settle for three seconds and three thirds on the PGA Tour.
“I admit I wasn’t very good on the PGA Tour,” he said. He then quickly added, smiling, “What I was good at was Tour School so I could qualify and stay on the Tour.”
Although he had to grind away at golf to make a career out of it for most of his life, Allen said, “I’m blessed to come out here and play. They treat us really great and in return all we have to do is play golf.”
After last year’s 60 and also winning the tournament, The Old Course predictably has become a favorite for Allen.
This year, the course is slightly different — a little faster and trickier. New grass was put in to achieve those conditions.
“I know why they changed the course on me,” Allen said, laughing. “That 60 was too darn low for them.”
Then he added with sincerity, “The course looks great — just beautiful.”
The Allianz is the first full-field event of the Champions season.
“We come out here with quite a bit of high expectations, but also with quite a bit of doubt,” Allen said.
“It’s always an interesting week here.”
When/where: Friday through Sunday; the Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton, 1401 NW 51st Street.
Purse: $1.7 million with $255,000 to the winner.
Format: Par 72, 6,807 yards; 54 holes, no cut; all players must be 50 years old or older.
Defending champion: Michael Allen, who won the 2014 title in a playoff with Duffy Waldorf.
Other notables: Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Rocco Mediate, Tom Kite, Nick Price, Hale Irwin, Ben Crenshaw, Sandy Lyle, Curtis Strange and Colin Montgomerie.