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Michael Allen Senior PGA Championship
Michael Allen hasn't won anywhere since 1989, but a stellar 66 Friday put him in position to do just that at Canterbury. (Photo: The PGA of America)

'Honored' Allen making most of special invite into Senior PGA

It's one thing to earn a special invitation into the Senior PGA Championship. It's another altogether to take advantage of it. Just ask PGA Tour journeyman Michael Allen, who arrived at Canterbury thanks to The PGA of America.

By Craig Dolch, Special to

BEACHWOOD, Ohio -- Michael Allen's decision to skip the PGA Tour this week to play in one of the world's premier 50-and-over golf tournaments looked wise Friday.

At least a lot better than it did on Thursday.

Allen birdied three consecutive holes on the back side, propelling him to a 4-under 66 that matched the low round of the 70th Senior PGA Championship so far. That moved him into a 11th-place tie at even-par 140 midway through the second round at Canterbury Golf Club.

Allen was eligible to play in this week's HP Byron Nelson Classic on the PGA Tour, but decided to make his Champions Tour debut after the PGA of America offered him a special invitation into the Senior PGA. He said the decision wasn't a slam dunk.

"It's always hard when you're playing the PGA Tour for six and a half million dollars to come and play (the Senior PGA) for two (million)," Allen said. "But I just thought it was very nice of the PGA to invite me. I have never had an invitation to a tournament before, so I was kind of honored."

Allen has been facing a dilemma most golfers would love to have after a strong finish last year moved him into the top 125 in earnings on the PGA Tour to keep his card. When he turned 50 on Jan. 31, it made him eligible for the Champions Tour.

But Allen's PGA Tour career earnings of $4.6 million entering this season was about $2 million shy of earning him status on the Champions Tour. And he decided to skip the Champion's Q-School, so he has continued to play on the PGA Tour this season.

Until this week.

"I don't really have any status out here, so I would love to be able to come out here and just see what it's like," said Allen, who ranks 137th in the PGA Tour's FedExCup standings this year. "And if I could win, it would get me in a good situation for next year."

Allen said his desire to finally win on the PGA Tour after 334 career starts is why he keeps playing with the kids. That's an optimistic approach for a player whose last victory came at the 1989 Scottish Open on the European Tour.

"I feel confident every week," he said. "Obviously, it's been since 1989 since I won, so the odds are in my favor."

That's one way to look at it.

Allen might have been second-guessing his decision to play the Senior PGA this week when he opened with a 74 Thursday that left him tied for 73rd place. But he missed just two greens Friday to rocket up the leaderboard.

Allen says even if he wins this week, his plan is to return to the PGA Tour for the rest of the year. He's the third-oldest player competing regularly on the PGA Tour (behind Tom Lehman and Bob Tway).

"I will stay on the PGA Tour regardless of what happens this week," Allen said. "I worked so hard at my career to get exempt and stay exempt on the PGA Tour that it means a great deal to me to do that."

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