Michael Allen, a native of San Mateo who now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, went around TPC Harding Park with a bogey-free 3-under 68 in the first round of the 2013 Charles Schwab Cup Championship today, galleried by local fans, no small number of longtime friends from the area, and his wife, Cynthia.
Allen was paired with Fred Couples in today’s first round, and between Allen’s local fans and the fans who came out to see Couples – easily the most recognizable player on the Champions Tour to the casual golf fan – the gallery following the pair around Harding Park was the largest on the course.
Allen kept pace with Couples off the tee, rifling drives that generally landed shorter than Fred’s but often ran past. Couples, whose syrupy-smooth swing still produces prodigious distance, flights a high-trajectory shot that hits and sticks, while Allen’s low-trajectory tee balls pick up considerable distance on the ground.
Allen’s low runner is a shot shape that is famously associated with players who grew up dealing with the winds of West Texas, but it is well-suited to Peninsula courses like Harding Park when the wind comes up. The low trajectory keeps the ball below the sea breezes that crest over the Monterey Cypress and pine trees lining the fairways, winds that play havoc with a higher, soaring ball’s flight.
Allen’s round, which had him T-8 at the end of the day, was one of only three clean cards in the first round; 2nd-place David Frost and Mark O’Meara, who posted a 5-under 66 and is in 4th place alone, own the others. But for a putt or two that missed by a hairsbreadth, notably at holes 1 and 5, Allen could be sharing 4th place with O’Meara. As it is, the 68 gives Allen an 11-for-13 record for sub-70 rounds in Charles Schwab Cup Championship play, and his 9th consecutive round of par or better at TPC Harding Park.
Play in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship resumes Friday morning at 10 AM, with groups going off at 10-minute intervals until 12:20 PM – Michael Allen tees off at 11:30, in a pairing with Kentuckian Russ Cochran.