BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Michael Allen said it wasn't until his 15th hole that he started thinking about shooting golf's magic number of 59.
And he promptly missed the birdie putt on the par-5 sixth hole. But with birdies on two of his last three holes, Allen matched the Champions Tour record with a 12-under 60 on Friday in the Allianz Championship, finishing the first round with an eagle and 10 birdies.
The 55-year-old Allen became the ninth player in the 35-year history of the 50-and-over tour to shoot 60 and the first to accomplish the feat on a par-72 course. "The story of my career — almost," said Allen, winless in 369 starts on the PGA Tour. "After I missed that birdie putt on No. 6, I kind of figured it wasn't happening."
Allen took advantage of the calm conditions on the Old Course at Broken Sound to grab a three-shot lead over Scott Dunlap. Allen played his last 15 holes in 11 under, highlighted by a 20-foot eagle putt on the 18th — his ninth hole of the day.
"It seemed really easy," said Allen, who won the 2009 Senior PGA Championship for the first of his five Champions Tour victories. "I think it's harder to shoot a 72 when you're struggling than to shoot a 60 when you're playing well."
Allen was fortunate on the par-4 fourth hole when he chunked his approach to the green, then skulled a chip that took two bounces and fell into the hole for an unlikely birdie. "That's when you kind of think things are going your way," Allen said. "It's great to shoot this round, but if I'm able to win, then it will become even more magical."
Tom Lehman, Chien Soon Lu and Wes Short Jr. shot 65. Short is attempting to become the 17th player to win in his Champions Tour debut. Defending champion Rocco Mediate shot a 69. He won last year in his first Champions Tour start.