Allem enjoying his life on the Champions Tour
When Fulton Allem wasn't getting ready for his rookie season on the Champions Tour, he was one of the judges for the Golf Channel's Fore Inventors Only show that ended a few days before he turned 50.
Allem was the early clubhouse leader with a 4-under 68 during yesterday's opening round of the Turtle Bay Championship, good enough for a tie for third by day's end. He trails front-runner Gil Morgan by three shots.
But because it's only his third Champions Tour event since turning 50 in September, the South African is pleased with the start. He believes two more rounds just like this one in the blustery trades will be near the top come tomorrow.
"I made my only bogey of the day on the last hole," Allem said after he found water on his second shot into the par-5 green. "So dinner won't taste that sweet. But I promise there will be a little vengefulness on that first tee shot tomorrow. I think if I can get it to 12, I think it will give me some kind of a chance, unless (defending champion) Freddie (Funk) goes comatose with the putter again."
Allem won three times on the PGA Tour, including the NEC World Series of Golf in 1993 that gave him a 10-year exemption. And while he hasn't won since, Allem is still enjoying life, particularly his time spent as a judge on last year's reality show.
"It was so nice to see the people's passion for the game of golf," Allem said. "How many people, the high handicappers who have such an incredible passion for the game and want to invent something to make the game easier. You know, it was so much fun. There was some junk and there was some really good stuff."
An invention called the Club Caddie won. It is a clip that attaches to a club near the green that allows it to become freestanding in an upright position. Allem didn't vote for it, liking the gyro club, instead.
"The guy who had that putter training aid, I thought was brilliant," Allem said. "The other thing I thought was brilliant was the gyroscope. It taught you how to release the club and hold it on plane. If you tried to get off the plane, it put you right back on."
Defending champ right there
Funk played a lot of holes before finally carding his first bogey at the Arnold Palmer
-designed par-72 course. He went all three rounds without a bogey in last year's 11-stroke victory. He had his first yesterday at the par-3 13th to snap the streak at 66 holes.
He hit his tee shot wide right of the hole, chipped it past the flag about 6 feet and then missed it coming back. It dropped Funk out of a tie for second, as he fired a ho-hum 70 to trail Morgan by five shots. He lagged behind first-day MasterCard leader Tom Purtzer by five shots, before rallying to win last Sunday by two.
Funk played this course in relatively calm conditions last year. That's not likely to be the case the next two days, as the tradewinds are up, forcing intermittent showers along the North Shore location.
After playing 36 holes with the amateurs on Wednesday and Thursday, Lee Trevino
withdrew with a bad back. It's causing him to have numbness down his right leg and he can't push off well enough on it, especially on the tee.
Before pulling out, the 68-year-old did give some putting tips to Allem that seem to be working. He shot 1 over to place last in a field of 41 golfers at the MasterCard Championship. He was the only golfer not to finish under par in the elite tournament.
Inside the numbers
Prior to yesterday, Morgan hadn't shared or held the first-round lead since the 2006 Senior PGA Championship. Jay Haas
went on to win that 72-hole event, with Morgan finishing third, two shots back after firing a final-round 74. Haas countered with a 68.
Mark Weibe had his first Champions Tour three-putt green at the par-5 ninth. He went 296 holes without a three-putt prior to that mishap. He liked it so much, he did it again two holes later at the par-4 11th. Yikes.
The Palmer Course got downright ugly yesterday at times, forcing a scoring average of 72.192. Last year, the first-day average was 72.615. Yesterday, there were 16 rounds in the 60s and 33 players broke par. Last year, there were 13 rounds in the 60s and 25 pros broke par.