Champions Insider: Win only makes Allen hungry for more

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Champions Insider: Win only makes Allen hungry for more
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Michael Allen's win at TPC Tampa Bay gave him the early lead in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.

The goals are clear. The game is clicking. Victory No. 2 on the Champions Tour -- finally -- is in his back pocket.

Life is good for Michael Allen, and that's as it should be. Here's a guy who has toiled long and hard. Here's a guy who tries every time out and, perhaps most important of all, here's a guy who simply doesn't let go of his dreams. Persistent? Sure, that's one way of saying it but, in truth, it doesn't quite go far enough.

Last week, it was about Bubba Golf. This week it's about Allen Golf. What that means is this: Don't ever stop trying to be good at whatever it is you choose to do. If that happens to be golf, don't ever stop trying to win.

It is well-documented that Allen has played 368 events on the PGA TOUR without a victory. At 53 and now a regular on the Champions Tour, what does Allen think of that? Only this -- it's something he still wants to accomplish and thinks he can. He's not willing to let go of that goal just because he's so comfortable and successful on the Champions Tour.

As competitive as Allen is on the Champions Tour, and has been since that day he arrived in the Summer of '09, winning remains a challenge. It always is for journeymen. Only the naturals are blessed with the ability to win regularly and Allen knows he doesn't fit into that category. His career has been a series of ups and downs, of trials and tribulations to go with the triumphs.

Allen won his Champions Tour debut at Canterbury Golf Club in Cleveland. It was a major -- the Senior PGA Championship. The obvious conclusion was that this guy is going to win a bunch on the Champions Tour. But despite solid golf at nearly every turn, the next victory didn't come until last week at the Encompass Insurance Pro-Am at Tampa Bay. When it did come, Allen made it look easy, winning by five strokes over Kenny Perry.

The span between his Champions Tour victories: 40 events. In more than half of those starts, 22, Allen posted a top 10 finish. He had 10 in the top three, including two runner-up finishes in major championships.

"I played a lot of really good golf out here," Allen said after his Tampa victory. "I knew it was going to come again soon, so it's very nice to get it over with. It was a relief.

"It's been a long time since I beat these guys. I haven't beaten them very often. It's very nice to get on 18 and finally go, 'Man, I got them all.' I beat them pretty handily and was comfortable doing it. I didn't really have a lot of stress out there. I'm playing with Sandy Lyle, too, who is a wonderful guy to play with, as easygoing as there is, so that helps a lot, too."

The victory in Tampa moved Allen to the top of the Charles Schwab Cup points list. In six starts this year, he has finished third or better four times. This week, Allen will team with David Frost as the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, where the duo missed a playoff by just a shot.

At one point, Allen had given up trying to make a living on the professional golf tours. Then he discovered making a living in any field requires a lot of the same things, the realities and the intangibles.

"In my early days, I had a great time traveling Europe and seeing the world," Allen said. "But when I came over here and started to play with all these stars that I had known growing up as a kid, it was very intimidating for me. I remember having the lead at the L.A. Open my first year after two rounds. There used to be a tent to the left of the fairway there which was out of bounds. Not only did I not hit the tent, I hit it left of the tent, so that's how nervous I was.

"It was kind of a downward period from there. I was lucky I was so good at q- School, I never would have had a job. I look back, it's pretty amazing how many times I got through trying to support a family, young kids and not really making a lot of money because you're at q-School. I've certainly been through a lot of difficult times."

Allen tried different occupations. He worked for a while at the famed Winged Foot Golf Club, built homes, thought about a career as a stockbroker.

"You realize how hard it is in the real word to make a living."

Back to golf, he made a living for a couple of years on the Nationwide Tour and then it happened. Allen found his game on the PGA TOUR and enjoyed an exceptional stretch beginning in 2004 when he posted a breakthrough in earnings with $882,872. Three years later, he hit the $1 million mark for the first time.

"The last eight years have been great," he said. "I've kept my card pretty much every year. I've never had to go back to q-school. The Champions Tour has been great for me. I feel I can still play on the PGA TOUR, but this is wonderful, I'm having a great time, able to make a good living and enjoying what I do. I appreciate it from all the struggles I've had in life and in golf."

The ultimate goal for 2012 is the Charles Schwab Cup.

"Not to be arrogant or cocky in any way, I certainly have gone out playing to win the Charles Schwab Cup," he said. "I work hard for that. It's my No. 1 goal besides getting in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, where I grew up.

"So those are my two main things. Hey, that was my goal last year, too, but I feel this year I'm playing well, I'm comfortable with the guys, I'm comfortable where I'm at and know my way around now. I feel like I should have a very good shot at it for sure."

Champions Tour Insider Vartan Kupelian is a freelance contributor for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. He can be reached at golfstix@aol.com.

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