Sports

From the Archives, 1992: Classic win a breeze for Allenby

Allenby’s playing partner on Saturday was amateur time friend and sparring partner Mark Allen, who also shows promise as a pro. Allenby shot 68 and Allen had 78 in the horrific wind conditions. In yesterday’s final round, Allenby again played with the second best man in the field, Senior, and the podium was set for a thrilling finish.

It was the boy against the nuggety Queenslander, down four shots, and it looked more like a battle of wits than skill. Having won the title twice before, Senior spawned 12 years of campaigning on the European front, as well as a formidable reputation for winning major events domestically.

Would the child falter? Not a little. He made a birdie on the first three holes and extended his lead. As the field battled against the 40-knot south-easterly wind that made Royal Melbourne its toughest wave test, Allenby bobbled away. His lead over Senior ranged from four shots at the start of the day, to nine shots on the sixth hole and back to five at the end. No one else came within the roar of a bull and Allenby walked away arguably the best rookie Australia has ever seen.

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Judged purely on money, no one can come close to him. He topped the money list with earnings of $308,528 in his first year at home and collected another $130,000 in Europe. Next week, thanks to yesterday’s victory, he will compete in the Johnnie Walker World Championship in Jamaica, where the grand prize is $680,000.

Senior, who pocketed $75,600 to Allenby’s $126,000 yesterday, said he thought he could have exploited his opponent’s youth by jumping him at the start, but when Allenby rolled an outrageous 20-yard birdie putt at the start and followed with more birdies on holes two and three, his options were very limited.

“Then he followed it up with a par on the fourth, the hardest hole on the course. He did what he had to do. After that it was a matter of perseverance. He did that very well.

“He’s going to be a really good player. He had his short game working this week. You can tell by the way he hits the ball that he has a great future,” said Senior.

“I’ve never played with a 21-year-old who is as good as Robert. To find a comparison you have to look at players like Seve Ballesteros and Jose-Maria Olazabal, who did similar things when they were 19 and 20 He’ll be kicking out old guys like me soon enough.”

Aside from winning emphatically, the main difference in Allenby yesterday was his attitude. Gone was the tension, or even fear, that he used to take on the course, and in its place was a calmness that was startling.

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He said much of the credit belonged to Melbourne caddy Craig Thomson, who recently parted ways with Mike Harwood for relaxing him in the heat of the moment. For his effort, Thomson has won the job caddies crave the most. When Allenby recently wrote in “The Age” that he was looking for a bagman, he received 100 written applications.

“He’s the best caddy I’ve ever had,” he said. “I have never been so relaxed on a golf course. It’s my new image. I’m going to laugh a lot more.”

Allenby said he knew he had won the title after 14 holes. “I ran 15 down and I was six shots ahead,” he said. “The atmosphere was great and I was confident in the way I played.”

Glory aside, being at the top of the money list means Allenby, who secured a place on the European circuit for 1993 this year and is exempt for the British Open, can also play in some of the biggest titles in America, including the US PGA, the US Open, the World Series, the Tournament Players’ Championship, the International Tournament and Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial event in Muirfield Village. It would not surprise if he is also invited to the US Masters. Not a bad first year.

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Merry

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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