May 23, 2009

Birdies And Bogeys

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Michael Allen's win in the Senior PGA Championship came in his Champions Tour debut, and was his first win on any tour in 11 years.

Michael Allen wasn't just a long shot to win the 70th Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club. He had no shot ... until Sunday. Then the 50-year-old journeyman made the most of his special exemption to claim the tournament by two strokes over Larry Mize in his Champions Tour debut.

It's a feel-good story for many reasons, not the least of which is that the easy-going Allen is well-liked by almost everyone. Oh, and did we mention he has never won on the PGA Tour -- a string of 334 starts; hadn't won on the Nationwide Tour or PGA Tour in a combined 267 starts; and is the King of Q School, advancing nine of 13 times?

In short, you probably couldn't have gotten odds on Allen winning until posted a Saturday-best three-under-par 67, then followed with another on Sunday. For a guy who had endured such a long victory drought -- his last win was the 1998 Greater Austin Open on the Nationwide Tour -- he was surprisingly poised and confident down the stretch. Allen played the last four holes two under and made only two bogeys in his final 41 holes.

His reaction to winning?

"About friggin' time!" Allen smiled.

Allen is a wine buff from Northern California, and you can be sure he celebrated in style Sunday night with family and friends. Why not? Given what he has gone through since turning pro in 1984, he deserves to throw himself a party.

Birdie: To Rory Sabbatini, for setting a tournament record by shooting 19-under par to win the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

Birdie: To Paul Casey, whose birdie-birdie finish won the BMW PGA Championship in England by one stroke over Ross Fisher.

Bogey: To Irishman Shane Lowry, surprise winner of the Irish Open, for turning pro. He decided money and experience were more important than competing for the Walker Cup team in September.

Birdie: To the LPGA, for coming out in force to celebrate the 31st and final Corning Classic. The farewell event drew nine of the top 10 and 28 of the top-30 money winners.

Bogey: To the PGA of America for pairing Greg Norman and Bob Tway together in the first two rounds of the Senior PGA Championship. Norman is still smarting over his loss to Tway in the 1986 PGA Championship.

Birdie: To Jose Maria Olazabal, for being selected to the World Golf Hall of Fame. How good is Olazabal's short game? Tiger Woods used to play practice rounds with him at Augusta National and soak up information like a sponge.

Bogey: To Adam Scott, who had another tough week at the Nelson, missing the cut for a career-high sixth-straight tournament.

Birdie: To organizers of next week's Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial for staging a "pink out" next Saturday. Players and fans are encouraged to wear pink to build awareness for breast cancer and support Amy Mickelson.

Bogey: To Lanny Wadkins. The new Hall of Famer shot 72-80 and missed the cut at the Senior PGA Championship.

Birdie: To Val Skinner, who helped raise more than $500,000 through her LPGA Pros In The Fight to Eradicate (LIFE) breast cancer benefit tournament on Monday in New Jersey. Participants included Brittany Lincicome, Meg Mallon, Laura Davies, Karrie Webb, Morgan Pressel and Beth Daniel.

Bogey: To Nancy Lopez, who has hatched an 18-month plan to stage another comeback on the LPGA Tour. T he 52-year-old Lopez hasn't made a cut in four years.

Birdie: To Rich Beem, who donated $100 for each birdie he made at the Nelson Championship to help Rich Behm, a Dallas Cowboys scout who was seriously injured in the collapse of the Cowboys practice facility. Unfortunately, Beem made only two birdies and missed the cut.

Bogey: To Stuart Appleby, who missed his third-straight cut at the Nelson Championship.

Birdie: To 64-year-old John Jacobs, for posting 18 straight pars in the first round of the Senior PGA Championship. Oh, and by the way, he blasted the longest drive of the day – 335 yards.

Birdie: To Brian Davis, who has the longest active streak of 20 consecutive rounds of par or better on the PGA Tour.

Bogey: To D.J. Trahan, who followed up an opening round 68 with a 73 at the Nelson, carding consecutive triple bogeys at the par-4 ninth and 10th holes on Friday and missed the cut.

Birdie: To Vijay Singh, who gave struggling Jesper Parnevik a lesson this week at the Nelson. "He looked like he was swinging underwater and not ripping through it," Singh told him.

Parnevik, who had hip surgery in late 2000, tied for 65th, slipping with a final-round 75.

Bogey: To Jonathan Byrd and James Oh, who closed with 6-over-par 76s on Sunday at the Nelson.

Birdie: To Eunjung Yi of South Korea, who eagled three of the first five holes Saturday in the third round of the LPGA Corning Classic.

Birdie: To Scott McCarron, whose 8-under-par 62 Sunday was the best round of the tournament at the Nelson and lifted him into a tie for fourth.

Birdie: To the caddies in next month's Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge at Bethpage Black: tour players Fred Couples (Michael Jordan), Anthony Kim (Justin Timberlake), and Rocco Mediate (Ben Roethlisberger); and instructor Mike LaBauve (Larry Giebelhausen).

Mark Soltau is a contributing editor to Golf Digest and the editor of TigerWoods.com.