Date: December 12, 2006
Author: Ben Wise

Allan eyes solid 2007

By Ben Wise, Sportal Now that the dust has settled on Steve Allan&aposs successful attempt to gain his US PGA Tour card for 2007, the Victorian has been able to set some goals for next year – and try and relax after what is often described as the most gruelling week in professional golf. Allan carded rounds of 69-71-69-73-71-71 to finish tied for 29th in the six-day qualifying event, but when he signed his card after the final round last Tuesday, the 2002 Australian Open winner was sitting in a tie for 34th – with only the top-30 to win a berth on the world&aposs most lucrative tour. His only chance was for players still out on the course to stumble, and Allan – who was a member of the PGA Tour from 2001-05 before losing his card – admitted that tension was high. “Yeah, I was obviously pretty nervous and hopeful (when waiting around),” Allan told Sportal. “I didn&apost want to get my hopes up too much and count on it but I didn&apost give up.” “When I finished I only had one person that was still out on the course to actually drop back to eight-under so I still figured I had a good chance because the way the golf course is, it&aposs just got incredibly difficult holes, like mentally difficult holes coming in.” “It didn&apost look good for a few minutes and then a few guys made bogeys and we were sort of in the position where it was looking pretty good so it was just a matter of waiting it out.” Allan said that nothing compares to how mentally demanding the qualifying event is, declaring that he was &aposfar more nervous&apos at Palm Springs than in the majors or US events he has played in. “Yeah absolutely, just because there is so much riding on it, you&aposve got your whole year, if I didn&apost get through that I&aposd be back on the Nationwide Tour which is a good tour – but it&aposs not the PGA Tour, you&aposre not playing with the best players in the world,” said Allan. “It&aposs hard on your nerves because you have to try and stay focused and not think about what you&aposre playing for, otherwise I think you&aposd just melt down so it&aposs definitely the hardest tournament that I&aposve played in.” Allan now joins a record 23-strong Australasian contingent on the PGA Tour, but revealed that earning the coveted card is simply the beginning of a long road ahead next year. “My card doesn&apost get me into any majors, none of the world golf championship events and I&aposm actually quite low on the entry list because I was one of the last guys to get through the school,” he said. “In the first seven weeks of tournaments, they call it the West Coast swing, I will be lucky to get in three – I will probably get in two and I might get in three. Then after that they actually have a re-rank of all the Tour School and Nationwide players so if I can do well in those tournaments and actually get higher up in the re-ranking I will then get in more as the year goes on.” The 33-year-old&aposs first &aposdefinite&apos event next year – after he spends the Christmas and New Year period with his wife, new-born son Liam and his parents at his base in Arizona – will be the AT&T at Pebble Beach in early February. But he will attempt to get into the fields for the Hawaii Open through the &aposMonday qualifying event&apos prior to that, and hopes to gain a start in other events in January. Allan said that it is hard to plan the whole year with just his card, and early good results are the key to setting himself up. “Basically, as you can imagine, you&aposve got your 125 (top-125 on the money-list) from last year and then there&aposs 40 guys from Tour School and 22 Nationwide guys all coming up onto the Tour. Some events are 156 as a full field but the clubs early in the year because it&aposs still winter and daylight is pretty low, a few of the fields are 144 or 132 so if everyone decides to play I&aposm not getting in.” But after registering three top-10 finishes on the Nationwide Tour this year and earning himself a tick over US$125,000 – that figure a far cry from the US$9.9 million Tiger Woods earned as the PGA Tour&aposs leading money-winner in 2006 – Allan knows that he is capable of doing anything players like US Open Champion Geoff Ogilvy have done. Allan and Ogilvy, along with fellow Australians Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby, all shared a similar path into big-time professional golf after coming through the amateur ranks playing pennant against each other on Melbourne&aposs famous &apossandbelt&apos stretch of courses. “It just makes it something that seems a little bit more attainable. Obviously Geoff is the first Aussie to win a major in a long time and with all the other Aussies winning on Tour, I&aposve played a lot of practice rounds with those guys – John Senden, Rod Pampling, Mark Hensby, Stuart and Rob – so it does, it makes it achievable.” “It also just helps Australians realise that we&aposre all good golfers, we don&apost have the depth of what the US does but to have 20-odd guys on the US Tour and just about every single one of them is competitive every year, it&aposs a pretty good time for Australian golf.” “You can&apost really think about just keeping your card because if you do that you are sort of setting your goals pretty low and with all the Aussies winning on the Tour it&aposd be nice to be one of them and get my first win under my belt next year.”