Senior PGA champ is of two minds in 2010

PARKER — Michael Allen has an opinion about winning. In order to win, he says, you have to consistently put yourself in position to win and use those opportunities to learn how to close the deal.

“Of course, this is all theory,” he admits with a chuckle. “I mean, I’ve only won one event, really.”

After trying and failing to win 334 times on the PGA Tour, Allen struck pay dirt in his first event on golf’s Champions Tour, winning last year’s Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club outside Cleveland.

That victory means that next month, when the likes of Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer and Jay Haas arrive at Colorado Golf Club in Parker for the first major championship of the 2010 season, they’ll carry plenty of star power, but it will be Allen carrying the label of defending champion.

“I feel like I’m part of the tour for real now,” Allen said Monday following a media day outing at the club.

In fact, last year’s victory put the 51-year-old Allen, heretofore known as a journeyman pro, into select company. He and Arnold Palmer are the only two players to win a major in their first Senior event. But while his come-from-behind, final- round victory over former Masters champion Larry Mize may have been somewhat surprising — “For whatever reason, I just told myself that finishing second wasn’t good enough,” he said — an even bigger head-scratcher was how he got into the tournament at all.

“I came home from a trip, and my wife said I had received an invitation, and I said, ‘An invitation to what?’ I haven’t been given an invitation to anything. I had to call (the PGA of America) to ask who had given it to me.”

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Now things have changed to the point where Allen, who has had a pair of second-place finishes on the PGA Tour, is hoping he can be a factor on the PGA Tour and the Champions circuit, perhaps even making a bit of history by becoming the first player to win a tournament on the regular tour after taking one on the over-50 set.

“Most people don’t get that opportunity, to win after 350 PGA Tour events,” he said. “They quit, or they aren’t as bullheaded as me.”

Currently, Allen is exempt only on the Champions Tour through the Senior PGA, in part because he hasn’t won enough money, which can be partially explained by the fact that his main focus remains the regular tour.

“Dave Stockton said I should be playing more (on the Champions Tour), but I’ve worked so hard to get into the position that I’m in on the PGA Tour,” he said of his No. 99 ranking on the money list. “There are certain events on the PGA Tour that I love, and I think I should be out there playing them while I can.

“I need to become exempt on the Champions Tour, but really, I’m just enjoying playing golf. I’m just having a good time.”

Anthony Cotton: 303-954-1292 or [email protected]

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