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August 11, 2009

Michael Allen


KELLY ELBIN: 2009 Senior PGA Champion, Michael Allen, ladies and gentlemen, joining us at the 91st PGA Championship.
In May at Canterbury Golf Club outside of Cleveland, Michael joined Arnold Palmer as the only players to win the Senior PGA Championship in their Champions Tour debut.
Michael, some thoughts on winning that major championship on the Champions Tour, what that meant to your career, and thoughts coming into the PGA Championship this week.
MICHAEL ALLEN: That was such a great honor, number one, to win there, to play great, to beat all of the guys that have beat me for so many years out here on TOUR.
You know, being that it was a senior event, I didn't know it would be as much, I'm certainly not a famous guy, by any means. But it's given me a little platform to be able to speak, people want to hear things. It's been an incredible -- it's been a great event for me to help me kind of climb up the ladder of golf and it's been fun.
So now, I'm happy to be here, because this is such a great event. So I'm just saying great a lot, I guess (laughing). I don't know what's going on.
KELLY ELBIN: Comments on the golf course from what you've seen, playing it, obviously the longest in major championship history.
MICHAEL ALLEN: I tell you, it is, starting off with that 490-yard hole, that kind of amazed me. It seems like a wonderful golf course. It's right in front of you. Not a lot of trickery out there. You're going to have to drive the ball really straight because the rough is really severe, as far as I had a hard time getting it out. But some of these holes are so long. I played last night, I think I teed off at about 5:00, you get to holes like 12 and 13, my God, that is actually a par 5 I think. What have they got, five par 5s for members here or something? They have got a lot of them, because this is a long, long golf course.
KELLY ELBIN: 12 is 518, par 4 for you guys.
MICHAEL ALLEN: When I grew up, that was a pretty good par 5. I don't know what's happened here. (Laughing).
KELLY ELBIN: It still is for some of us.
MICHAEL ALLEN: I figure when I become a senior, a hole like that that's 520 or something, I'm hitting driver or 3-wood, I know I'm really a senior when it gets to be 420 and I'm hitting driver, 3-wood. (Laughter).

Q. What do you expect to shoot on this golf course? I mean, if you have a banner day.
MICHAEL ALLEN: I don't really know what the scoring is going to be like. Hopefully one better than Tiger.
You know, when I played yesterday, I was driving the ball pretty well. And as long as you're in the fairway, you can play these shots into the greens. Again, it's not like you hit a good shot and just get the ball bouncing over the green or in some weird place. The course, the greens are subtle but have a lot of slope.
You know, I don't know. I hope I can get a couple rounds shooting 4- or 5-under or something, because it's out there if you can drive the ball straight. But you know, it is a long course. There's some very difficult holes and I'm sure some wind, and just golf being golf, it can certainly sneak up on you, and you can certainly make a lot of bogeys in a row if you start hitting it straight.

Q. The follow-up is have you been having any dreams lately about Tom Watson and you playing together and having a great round?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Well, I played with Tom in the last round of the British Senior Open. My dream has always been to play with Tiger in the last round of this week. That's what I would like to do.
You know, that's where I'm really lucky, too, I'm able to go out and compete with Tiger one week and Tom Watson the next. Life's pretty good right now.

Q. You're going back and forth still between the Champions Tour and the PGA TOUR; for a lot of guys who come from the Champions Tour, these courses really are -- the length and everything else, but you're playing every week out here. Do you still have that mind-set of, hey, I'm still thinking more regular tour than Champions Tour? Is that your mind-set this week? Talk about your mind-set if you don't mind.
MICHAEL ALLEN: My mind-set truly is I still want to play on the PGA TOUR for another year or two. I'm going to play a few senior events only when this FedEx thing, once I get kicked out of them or whatever, I'll play a couple of events then.
But I feel like I'm a PGA TOUR player; that's what I want to be. I work hard like I'm a PGA TOUR player. And really, until I can win on the PGA TOUR, I'm not really going to be satisfied, so that is my mind-set, that's my goal. I love chasing and I love working for it, and you know, I look forward to weeks like this. It's just what you play for.

Q. There were some people critical of Tom Watson being able to do what he did at the British, people outside golf talking about the sport, having an older guy being able to compete with young guys, etc., etc. Could you speak to what you do and how hard you work to be able to prepare for tournaments like this and to stay competitive?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Yeah, I mean, I put so much time into preparing for these things, you know, with weeks of work ahead of time to come out and try and play, like last week, to make sure I'm feeling competitive out there.
For me, my work ethic has not gone down just because I'm 50. I know I can't sit out there and hit balls for four hours a day anymore, but that doesn't mean I can't prepare completely. I may not sit there and hit balls for four hours, but I can sit there and chip, I can putt, I can hit balls for an hour. I can get my body to go to the gym, make sure I'm ready, I have a good trainer at Back Nine Fitness that helps me keep my body going.
And I find as I get older, I find that's far more important for me, too, to make sure my body is working well, all of the tissue is loose so I can get the most out of my game. And that's a big part of my preparation now is making sure my body is going, instead of sitting on the range and the practice area for six hours, to put a good three hours every day in and make sure my body is really ready to move properly and get that working well.
So those things combined, I don't have to sit there and hit balls like I did when I was 25 and just kill myself out there and get blisters every day. That doesn't mean that I'm working harder than I am now. I'm smarter.
KELLY ELBIN: As a follow-up to that, can you give a brief sense to how many holes you'll play in practice rounds and what a Monday through Wednesday is like leading into the start of a major championship?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Yeah, for me it was important to get out yesterday. I wanted to go see the whole golf course. After flying in, I went out and I played 18 holes last night.
Now, the rest of the week, I'll play nine holes each day and put a nice practice in, a good two, three hours at least, and make sure I'm ready for every facet.
Once you start seeing the golf course, you start understanding what shots you're going to need around the greens, what type of shots you can hit into greens. And this course seems to take -- it's not like you just can hit wedges. Canterbury, I knew I had to hit a lot of wedges, so I really worked on that part of my game. Now here, I'm going to have -- you're going to have to hit a lot more long irons, or even a few 3-woods and rescues into some of these greens.
But you know, the main thing right now is to also understand where I want to hit the ball on the greens, and really preparing for the shots around the greens, the type of shots we are going to have and the speed of the greens.

Q. On the question of all the clubs you use, the technology has really developed a lot since you started playing, has that done a lot to keep your game sort of better than it might have been otherwise?
MICHAEL ALLEN: Yeah, I mean, certainly. I came on TOUR, my first couple of years, I was about 10th, 12th in driving distance and I think I was hitting it about 275. Now I'm 50 years old, 20 years later and I'm hitting it, last year, I averaged 290, 295. In those 20 years, I put on 20 yards. I know I'm a physical specimen that's pretty incredible, but most of the equipment has been a big help. (Laughter).
That's certainly kept me in the game. The irons that TaylorMade makes now with the cavity back, the forged clubs are phenomenal. With the help of the irons. The drivers are obviously unbelievable.
The equipment is a big part of it, the golf ball is great. It doesn't really turn much, but the equipment has been phenomenal and has certainly kept everybody in the game.
Of course, some of the kids now are hitting much further by me than they ever did.

Q. Do you do a lot of mixing and matching this week, knowing that it is a longer course, a major championship? Will you go into the trailers and spend more time with the TaylorMade guys? Do you put something different in the bag this week for the Championship?
MICHAEL ALLEN: I'm certainly going to make sure those wedges are going to set up just right, because I'm probably going to hit a few after I hit in the rough.
Right now I've worked very hard the last few weeks to put some new wedges in the bag, so I'm prepared for them. And then that's the main thing; I carry a rescue, so I don't really -- I'm not going to have like two of them or anything.
As I say, this course, you hit every different club into the greens. So I'm not going to be doing too much. I'm pretty well set. The main thing was really to get familiar with the wedges so you can pitch and chip a little better around here.
KELLY ELBIN: Following up on your win at the Senior PGA Championship, did that prove to you that you obviously could win at a high level? Has it changed your thoughts about yourself going out week-to-week, whether on the regular TOUR or Champions Tour?
MICHAEL ALLEN: You know, it really has. Because it's been a long struggle for me out here, one that I've enjoyed for the most part. That kind of validated a lot of things and proved to myself that I can hit the shots when I need to and I can handle the pressure.
That was a very big win for me. And I think it maybe also, for me, it helped change maybe how other people see me a little bit, and that was important to me, too.
But yeah, it gives you a belief; once you can do it, now I'm out feeling like, okay, how do I get in contention here and get myself really into this thing without hopefully freaking out on the third hole.
KELLY ELBIN: 2009 Senior PGA Champion, Michael Allen, thank you for joining us.

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