Philadelphia, PA – You can take a look at Michael Allen's results this season and say that, before winning the Encompass Insurance Pro- Am on Sunday, he was knocking on the door of victory.
He opened the season by tying for third at both the Mitsubishi Electric and Allianz Championships, and was in the top-10 at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, a PGA Tour event. Allen then finished second to Fred Couples three weeks ago in Mississippi.
But in truth, Allen's spent a lot of time waiting, years, in fact. He hadn't won since the 2009 Senior PGA Championship, a title that came 11 years after his only title on the Nationwide Tour.
Victories don't come along too often for Allen.
He went winless in 334 PGA Tour starts before his Senior PGA title, and hasn't titled at a couple dozen more PGA events since.
Allen won once in 127 Nationwide events, and now twice on the Champions Tour.
But that's not to say that Allen has had an unsuccessful career as a professional. It's more the case that he's come agonizingly close, over and over.
On the PGA Tour, he has three runner-up finishes and been third three more times. He's finished second on the Champions Tour five times, and twice on the Nationwide Tour. In his entire career, he has 54 top-10 finishes.
Allen has been especially close to winning on the Champions Tour, where he's been a consistent contender. In 42 starts, he has 22 top-10 finishes. He even won his Champions debut back at the '09 Senior PGA, during which he exclaimed it was "about freaking time!"
Allen, 53, is clearly a very good golfer with the tools to win, but some of what he says makes it seem like he expects not to.
Saturday, after he had taken the third-round lead, he said that he thinks he should win quite often, but he added that, "these guys have beaten me my whole life, so I don't expect them not to."
Then on Sunday, the first words out of his mouth at his press conference were self-deprecating.
"I guess what comes to mind, it doesn't look like I have a very good chance of winning next year," Allen said.
Later on, he made a few more comments pertaining to his lack of victories:
- "I knew it was going to come again soon, so it's very nice to get it over with. It was a relief."
- "I certainly like to think I could win a few more times, but history says I'm not going to do very well."
Those don't look like the quotes of a person confident in his ability to win, but confidence is complex. It's not a binary emotion, that you either have it or you don't. And Allen may just now be starting to show it.
Sunday, he talked about how he came into pro golf as a nervous, intimidated kid, toiled through years of Q School, spent some time away from the game, and came back on the Nationwide Tour. His career has never been a story about massive success. It's had stress and losses and setbacks.
But because of that, Allen said, he appreciates the opportunity he has to play on the Champions Tour.
He's certainly taking advantage of it this year. Allen has the best overall scoring average, leads the Charles Schwab Cup points standings and money list, and is tied for most top-fives with Bernhard Langer, who hasn't won this season.
Allen is a more relaxed, comfortable golfer now than he was earlier in a career, and it's paying off in the way of results. The confidence that comes with good results is following, bit by bit.
When asked to look back on his career, Allen remarked that he would love to be 30 and starting all over.
"I think I could have had a career where people actually know who I was," Allen said.
Well, Allen's career isn't over, and he can still make a name for himself in some way. Based on how he's playing this year, he probably will. And it's about freakin' time.