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May 24, 2009
KELLY ELBIN: Ladies and gentlemen, the 70th Senior PGA Champion, Michael Allen, joining us at Canterbury. Michael shot his second straight 67 today for a championship winning total of 274, 6-under par. Michael, you join Arnold Palmer as the only other player to win the Senior PGA Championship in your Champions Tour debut. It's been a long time coming. Congratulations.
MICHAEL ALLEN: Thank you very much. If you refer to me and Arnie, the only thing we had in common before was we liked to drink wine or something, I guess.
KELLY ELBIN: How about some comments about what it was like being out there and capturing this championship.
MICHAEL ALLEN: Well, overall this whole day I felt pretty darn comfortable. And it was a day I never seemed to be too stressed and I got a nice let down on that first hole after hitting it a hair long and was really just pretty comfortable all day.
I was surprising myself, given the situation, I seemed to feel that way. And maybe that's why I played well. I don't know.
KELLY ELBIN: You had the birdie on 9, the birdie on 18. Just a quick recap of your four birdies and the bogey on 14, please.
MICHAEL ALLEN: All right. The birdie on 9 was not really a very good 6-iron I hit in there. But I came up about maybe 20 feet short and it was kind of the thing that got me going. I finally made a birdie. And I saw that Larry was 5-under so it got me in a better situation.
Then 12 I hit a beautiful drive and a beautiful little 9-iron to about four or five feet.
Then the bogey was, man, I hit a beautiful tee shot and I had 140 to the hole and just, I don't know, the one shot I just kind of started rushing. I don't know what happened there. It just came out just a groove thin and I went a little long and I don't know it was a bad play there.
But then the birdie on 15, I hit it left off the tee, hit a nice punch shot with a 5-iron, hit a little 65 yard, 60 degree club in there to about seven, eight feet. Really hit a beautiful putt. That was really nice. Hit a really good solid putt there.
Then 18 was just kind of -- really the key shot was really on 17 when I just got up and just hit the best 4-iron I could possibly hit and get it back there. Because that was the hole that you had a good chance to make bogey on.
And then 18, obviously I just got up and just my caddie said, do you think a 3-wood, and I said, I got this. I'm going to hit the driver and I'm smashing it. And I couldn't hit it any better.
And I had, I hit a sand wedge into that green. So then to make the putt was fine. Just making sure I got it real close.
KELLY ELBIN: Thank you. Open it up for questions, please.
Q. How far was the shot into 18 with the sand wedge?
MICHAEL ALLEN: It was 110 front and 120 hole or 118 hole. But a little bit downwind. Normally sand wedge is about 105, 110. I figured it was a nice hard one. Because that's a firm green and I wanted to be aggressive there.
Q. How long was the putt?
MICHAEL ALLEN: 10 or 12 feet, I think.
Q. Everything you've gone through your career all your persevering, just talk about looking at that trophy and seeing your name on that list with the guys like Palmer and Nicklaus, Floyd and all them, the greats of the game.
MICHAEL ALLEN: It's nice to see my lips on, what is that Arnold Palmer now?
(Laughter.) The lip marks there.
It's certainly an incredible honor to win a tournament. Chi Chi, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Wargo, Trevino, you know, I've never, I've always held all those guys in such honor my whole career as a young guy growing up and really kind of am shy to even go talk to them.
But to be on that trophy is a phenomenal thing. It makes it worthwhile. You go -- and that's where I kind of figure that, you know, one of the reasons I wanted to come here, to get myself in this situation and then to win, that's really what I wanted.
To see this here and to be in the namesake as Arnold Palmer is just an incredible honor.
Q. 334 tournaments without wining, how do you keep from being discouraged and what's it like to finally be sitting up there?
MICHAEL ALLEN: 334? Seems like just yesterday.
I got discouraged enough in the late, or mid 1990s to quit. And I went and tried to build some homes. I tried to do some other things in life. And I did some other jobs, teaching, be a club pro, went through all the PGA of America stuff. I got my class A license.
But I just, you know, after sitting out there and working for about three years you just kind of realize, that it's hard to go out in the real world and make a hundred thousand dollars a year.
And to come out and start to -- I had my kids, I'm going to take care of my kids no matter what and my family. So to go out and have an opportunity to play golf -- it has been a lot of frustration, a lot of good times, a lot of tough times.
But in the end you're playing golf. And on the PGA TOUR, you can make so much money. I can't make that money any other way in life. So to me it is a struggle, but it's a struggle that I enjoy every day.
It keeps me in shape, it keeps me healthy. It does so many things for my life that -- it is a struggle, there's a lot of frustration, but there is in life. And I have a great time doing it every day.
Q. Do you still plan on going back to the PGA TOUR or does this make you think about playing on the Champions Tour more?
MICHAEL ALLEN: No, this just gives me the exact scenario I wanted. Where I'm going to be the first guy ever to win his first tournament, win a senior tournament before he wins a PGA TOUR event.
(Laughter.) Sounds good anyhow.
Q. You opened with 74. And then played three really good rounds of golf. What was the difference of what perhaps didn't go so well in the first round that obviously you turned around over the last three days?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Well the real strategy things I changed is there's a lot of holes, especially on the front nine, where I got to hit 3-woods and I got to cut them. And that's just not a good shot for me. I can hit my 3-wood pretty straight, I can draw it a little bit. I'm just not really, it's not really a good club I like to fade.
So I went back, like 3, a couple days I hit a rescue, couple days I hit driver, because I can cut my driver real well.
Like 5, I started hitting a 3-iron off the tee. Instead of 3-wood.
And except for today, I was able to get it into play in a better position. I hit 3-wood left and you're just in a bad position over there. So it's just kind of refiguring some of the holes.
8, I started hitting 3-iron off of instead of 3-wood. And it seemed to play better for me. I had more opportunities at birdie.
Q. Two part question. It's kind of funny, some of the northern Ohio PGA pros were watching you at the driving range and they said you seemed to be struggling at the tee. But obviously it was no struggle during the round. Were you experimenting on the tee or is it one of those things that practice means nothing compared to play?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Well, no, the red light was on so I had to hit it really well.
(Laughter.) I didn't realize that light was out there until like the second or third day. And I go, green light, what's that? And so I realized the red light was because there was people in the fairway. So I was hitting low beaters and I'm sure they didn't look very pretty to anybody watching.
Q. The second part is, as you were coming down the stretch as Jeff mentioned about your long drought, is this something, a moment that you relished or were you still a little bit nervous?
MICHAEL ALLEN: I was fighting those little bit of demons, you always, you know, trying to keep your mind focused on what you're doing and keep calm. And today I was really able to kind of keep calm and just keep playing.
That bogey kind of bothered me. But I did, I tried not to let it bother me. I just said, I still got two holes, I know I got some good opportunities, so let's get after it and move on.
I tend to make one mistake every day anyhow. My other two bogeys this week the last three rounds were 3-putts, you know, so I was able to keep calm and keep going and play pretty well coming in.
Q. Two questions. First of all, last night, what was that like, what did you do last night and what was that like?
MICHAEL ALLEN: We had a great time. Went over to Flemings and I drank some nice pinot noir and just a two or three glasses and I didn't want to get -- just enough, because I figured red wine is good for your nerves, white wine is not good, I drank that Wednesday night, so you can see what happens.
But red wine, that's my tip of the week.
Q. And the second one, on the first hole you mentioned you hit it a little long. That looked like a little ticklish chip shot, because it was downhill and you kind of had a little downhill lie. You hit a beautiful shot there. Did that kind of calm you down a little bit and say, okay, this is going to be a good day?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Yeah, it did. It's an innocent little shot there. You can leave it short. The pin was a little bit forward. So I did, the ball just came out of there, you're trying to hit such a little kind of 55 club. And it just came out of there just kind of low and scooting and surprised me a little bit, because I thought I hit it pretty decent.
But I guess that little bit of nervousness, that little bit of pumped up helped. And so that chip was wonderful to hit a nice little soft chip. And I had room. It wasn't a real hard shot. But it was nice to execute it properly.
Q. Did you have a good lie?
MICHAEL ALLEN: I did have a decent lie. Yeah.
Q. Were you, you started off the one shot lead, but you're playing partners kind of were scrambling the first couple of holes. First of all, when were you first aware that Mize had birdied the first couple of holes?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Well, I, obviously starting out they both bogeyed the first hole. And then I guess when I was on the fourth green I saw, I guess it was the fourth green, I saw that Larry was also was 3-under. And so I realized that, I kind of figured there weren't that many people to challenge all week, all today, I mean, but I figured that if the guys in my group didn't play well there was probably someone else that would play well. And it happened to be Larry. And he got off to obviously a very good start.
Q. Then when you were making pars, you were making steady pars, and then at some point you must have found out that Larry had birdied back to back and had a two shot lead.
MICHAEL ALLEN: Yeah, I kind of saw that. I hit it really close on 7. I hit it about five feet or something there and I had just one of those tricky little downhillers, and, but the front nine was tough for me all week. I just couldn't make any birdies. I think I made maybe three birdies all week on the front nine. Even though I hit a lot of decent shots. It was just very tough for me to make birdies on that side for some reason.
And I just kind of said to myself, just stay in there. And I saw he was at 5-under, when I, actually when I birdied 9. So I felt I was in the game. And I felt I had a good chance.
Q. You probably thought about this forever, going to the last hole, demanding hole, with a one shot lead, and you talked about how you didn't want to hit the 3-wood, but just the way you played that hole, not only did you win, but you won it like a champion. Just talk about that last hole.
MICHAEL ALLEN: Well, thank you very much. That last hole, I just, after I'm hitting that great shot on 17, really hit a beautiful drive on 16. I kind of knew exactly what I wanted to do with my swing.
And so I just saw that and I just knew that the way where the pin was, if I just smashed it and hit it up, even if I hit it a little bit right, I would have a decent play at that pin. Be in decent shape.
But I just got up there and just really committed to hitting it right at that tower. And hit one of the best drives I hit all week and just killed it right on my line. And so it was nice to finish well.
We got the last shot and I got about 110, which I like hitting a little tiny 110 pitching wedge, but I just felt like that green was so hard that, man, I'm feeling pretty good here, let's get up and just smash a sand wedge. Hit something I can be aggressive with.
KELLY ELBIN: For the record, Michael played the front nine in 1-over this week, back nine in 7-under.
MICHAEL ALLEN: Great. I like the back nine.
Q. For all of those years when you've perhaps questioned yourself as to whether you belonged out there or wanted to play, now that you have reached the mountain top, so to speak, are you likely to look at your own abilities perhaps a little differently?
MICHAEL ALLEN: I've always looked at my abilities like I should be competitive and I should be able to win. And me and my wife Cynthia have talked about it a lot and a lot of frustration. And I get mad at her when she says something that I don't like and, but there's a lot of frustration, I've always believed in myself, but for some reason I've never been able to kind of get over it and just get out of my own way and play. And just stay to the business.
On TOUR, it's difficult too because there's so many good players. They putt so well. And that's usually what kind of gets me. They beat me on the putting green. At TPC the winner beat me by like 18 shots on the putting green. And I hit the ball around there beautifully. I know I have the ability, but it's hard to, you got to have all facets of the game to hold up. And this course in a way kind of equalized it, because no one else was able to make really any putts too. It was very difficult. So my ball striking really kind of held up for me.
I don't know if I'm answering your question very well, but I've always believed in myself a great deal and there has been a lot of incredible frustration going through this and not necessarily just not winning, but just not performing the way I feel I can. I know I can play well.
Q. Obviously the PGA TOUR purses are three to four times bigger than this TOUR, you sure the thrill of winning doesn't out weigh the thrill of making money?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Well, that's certainly something to weigh. But for me I feel like I worked my game to be the, to become a really competitive player. And I want to test my game against the best players in the world at this point. That's kind of where I'm at.
I just, you know, in a couple years, maybe a year, who knows what's going to happen this year. But hopefully from this, hopefully it will get my career going a little better. But I still want to compete against the best players in the world for another year or two while I'm able to because I won't believe able to for long.
Q. Besides prize money, how big of a difference is there on equipment endorsement on the two tours?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Well, from what I understand, I've never been out here, so Taylor Made, I don't know if they're going to sponsor me for very much, but I don't really know. I think in the end you're guaranteed money and the competition, I'm sure that in the end the money would probably be pretty similar out there or out here. I've been feeling pretty well doing well last few years making a million dollars a year and on TOUR, and I think if I came out here I would probably be similar, so I don't think it's really about the money for me, it's about trying to be the best that I can be to prove that all this work is, to compete against the best.
Q. What event will you enter next?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Right now I'm going to play in the U.S. Open qualifying and then after that I got kind of Hartford and the AT&T, I guess, I guess it's in Philadelphia this year. Maybe Memphis.
KELLY ELBIN: No, it's in DC this year.
Q. Where are you playing The Open qualifier?
MICHAEL ALLEN: I'm out in New York. In Purchase.
Q. Could you talk about the special invite from the PGA of America and what that meant to you and how did that come about? How did they let you know and in what form and all that.
MICHAEL ALLEN: It was kind of nice because I never really wrote for an invite and some of my friends said you should, you know. But I had Byron Nelson this week, so it's a nice opportunity. And my wife said, hey, a letter from the PGA, I think they're in or they want you to play or something like that. I said, no, I probably have to pay some dues or something, you know.
I never -- I never really had an invitation for anything.
So it was nice to look through it and I go, man, they actually invited me. That's amazing. I called them up and tried to make sure clarify this because I still wasn't really sure, you know.
And I talked to I guess Kerry or someone, someone on the committee and they were, yeah, no, we want you to play. They had me ranked 195 in the world or something and so they wanted me to play. So to me once they gave me an invitation, I was really honored, they actually wanted me to play and to me that made a difference.
Q. When did you get the invite?
MICHAEL ALLEN: I think it was about two months ago. I'm not sure exactly.
Q. I'm curious what the week was like, I know it's about 72 holes of golf and practice and it's the office out there, but you're wife's sitting here with me, she seems like a perfectly delightful person to be with, and what was the week like, just the whole experience you made a joke about white wine one evening, red the next, what was your week like?
MICHAEL ALLEN: I've had a very nice week here. I got here actually a day early. I usually come in on Monday and I came in actually on Sunday to, because of the pro-am. So I was able to play 18 holes one day, then nine holes each of the next two days. I played my front, you know, Butch Sheehan, we had nice time going around and practicing together.
It was wonderful to come out here and see so many guys like I used to play with in Europe, until like the 1990s's, my first year on the TOUR. So I played with all these guys for about four years and I hadn't seen them in 20 years literally. And so it was real nice to see a bunch of those guys from Europe that we're all the same age, I guess, and you know, and then to come and see some of the guys from the TOUR that I haven't seen for awhile. So I mean overall it's everybody's treated me very nice and the club was wonderful to me. I had a great time going up to Cavalier's game.
Q. I was going to ask you --
MICHAEL ALLEN: I really kind of blew it, I was going to give it one of those, you know, but I didn't.
Q. When was that Wednesday or Friday?
MICHAEL ALLEN: We went Friday and we left with one second left.
Q. You left with one second left?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Yeah.
It was one second. What could happen?
Q. You did not see the shot?
MICHAEL ALLEN: I did not. But we heard. We were outside and it was just an explosion inside and then the, all the bars around there were packed and they exploded about four or five seconds later and I'm like, what happened? And you know, so it was really kind of interesting. But it was fun.
Q. Your wife she gave me a little some crib notes back here, you guys have two daughters, and they often come with her, but they didn't this week. Have they texted you yet or called you?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Texted me? Texted me? Yes. They texted a lot. That's what they do. They texted.
Q. Do you need that million bucks to pay for the texts?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Exactly. She had like 1,500 last month or something like that. Or 15,000. I don't know what it was.
Q. I'm always curious, kids tend to cut right to the heart of stuff. What did the daughters have to say?
MICHAEL ALLEN: You know what, I actually haven't talked to them, the PGA of America hasn't let me talk to them.
CYNTHIA ALLEN: I will say one thing, I talked to our youngest daughter Michelle, who will be 12 next week, and I called her on the phone and she goes, daddy won, right? He didn't tie, he won? And I'm like, yes, he won. Are you sure he didn't just tie? How much money did he make?
MICHAEL ALLEN: I was going to say that's usually the first question, is how much money did you make, dad?
I could buy you all champagne is what I would like to do.
Q. I was just wondering if anything stood out in the terms of the condition of the course this week?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Wow, well I mean the greens were so firm, but they were very, very consistent all week and that was phenomenal. And you could count on a shot bouncing back. It's not as though one green is soft and then it sticks on the next.
So that was extremely nice. The greens were phenomenal in terms of their consistency and firmness. But the greens were just so tough. That's what sticks out the most. That and, I don't know, I don't know if it was easier to hit the ball in the fairway or the green. I'm not sure. They were both very difficult to kind of shape the ball a little bit and pick the right club.
That's what sticks out the most. Those greens were tough. And you get these little wedges and you got to carry the mound or hit it just into it and let it run back or you got to -- so it was, the greens were wonderful.
KELLY ELBIN: Michael is also the 14th player in Champions Tour history to win in his debut.
Q. Everybody's talking about how much and you've talked about the frustration and so forth of this long time coming, but you did win on the European Tour in '89, and I'm wondering, when you won that, you must have felt like, I'm off to the races, there's something better that I'm going to be doing and it's going to be a lot sooner than 2009.
MICHAEL ALLEN: Well, completely. I won in '89. I finished a second or third. And as a matter of fact, I would have been on the European Ryder Cup team that year when they picked the team. I was 7th on the Money List.
So I was expecting to come over here and do real well. I really made my decision to come over here because I really wasn't able to make any money off contracts over there being an American. So -- and I hadn't been to TOUR school in about two or three years at that time.
And so then I came over here and got my card and finished pretty well at school and I just, I just never played very well. I wasn't really that good back then. I thought I was, but I just never really had it.
And luckily I was good at Q-School, because I was back there like every year. I only kept my card like one year.
So it was a struggle back then. But Europe was so much fun, I loved traveling around, but when I got here and started playing against all these guys I had seen growing up, it was a different world to me. And as I said, I played about six or seven years and then stopped playing, tried to do something else, because I wasn't very good.
Q. I was going to ask you as a follow-up, what was the not necessarily the worst job, but maybe the one that really kind of made you think, all right, I'm definitely going back and trying the pro TOUR?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Well, I tell you, I had one, I had -- actually it was a great job, I worked at Winged Foot for my first year. And of course I was also trying to build homes at the time, which was tough.
But I just remember standing out there and at Winged Foot, I was so happy because I was actually able to put shorts on. But the only reason I was able to put shorts on that time was because I was washing all the mats we were hitting balls off of, right. So it was kind of humiliating, back in the maintenance area you're a club pro here, washing, hosing down mats and scrubbing them and that. And that wasn't very good.
Q. What year was that?
MICHAEL ALLEN: I think that was '96 or '97. It was the year before they had the PGA.
Q. When you say building homes, you mean as a contractor?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Yes, I was a contractor. Well, I had a contractor that I was going through them and trying to do that up at Troon North and that. Even this market, that market in the late '90's, I was still able to lose money. I got me a cell phone and figured everybody would start calling me and needing me, but I was wrong.
KELLY ELBIN: Per your request, champagne is being sent to the media center for all of us.
MICHAEL ALLEN: There we go. There we go. About time.
KELLY ELBIN: I think they like you even more now. I know they do, as a matter of fact.
Q. I'm just curious if this, what this feels like, like you expected, what, is it relief, euphoria, and just kind of, I don't know if you can describe it.
MICHAEL ALLEN: It's kind of a combination of everything. It's certainly a relief to kind of get over it and finally win. It's just been an awfully long time. It's kind of euphoria actually to win.
I'm sure like tonight and tomorrow morning especially will be, you know, a whole new world. Yesterday I had 45 texts, and before I went to bed there were more.
It's kind of a combination of everything. It's, you know, it's been a long time. It's been a lot of belief, a lot of hard work and it's wonderful for it to come through and I don't think I felt it quite yet.
But it's certainly a relief to know that you can do it too. And it's also a new beginning to kind of believe in myself. And that's one of the main reasons I wanted to play here, to get a chance and go out on TOUR and have more experience here. And now I have a chance to actually win and do it.
So it's expectation, I expected to be here, but I expect that a lot. Maybe a little more so this week, you know, just playing against guys that are 50 and older, you know.
But they're all great players, so.
KELLY ELBIN: Michael Allen, the 70th Senior PGA Championship champion.
MICHAEL ALLEN: Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. Where is the champagne? Let's get the champagne.
End of FastScripts