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Allenby, Robert - Professional golfer, Career, Sidelights

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Born Robert Mark Allenby, July 12, 1971, in Melbourne, Australia; son of Don and Sylvia Allenby; married Sandy, 1999; children: Harry Jack, Lily Bela. Addresses: Contact —PGA Tour, 112 TPC Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082-3046. Contact —Challenge House, 529-535 King St., West Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3003. Home —Melbourne, Australia, and Jupiter, Florida.

Career


International victories include: Perak Masters, 1992; Johnnie Walker Classic, 1992; Optus Players Championship, 1993; Heineken Australian Open, 1994; Honda Open, 1994; Heineken Classic, 1995; Alamo English Open, 1996; Peugeot French Open, 1996; One2One British Masters, 1996; Australian PGA Championship, 2000; Australian PGA Championship, 2001; MasterCard Australian Masters, 2003; MFS Australian Open Championship, 2005; Cad-bury Schweppes Centenary Australian PGA Championship, 2005; MasterCard Australian Masters, 2005. PGA Tour victories include: Shell Houston Open, 2000; Advil Western Open, 2000; Nissan Open, 2001; Marconi Pennsylvania Classic, 2001.


Awards: Rookie of the year, Australasian PGA Tour, 1992; Australasian PGA Tour Order of Merit winner, 1992; most consistent player, Australasia PGA Tour, 1993; Dunhill Cup team member, 1993; World Cup team member, 1993, 1995; Australasian PGA Tour Order of Merit winner, 1994; Presidents Cup team member, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2003; Ben Hogan Award, Golf Writers Association of America, 2001; Australasian PGA Tour Triple Crown, 2005.


Sidelights


Robert Allenby made history in 2005 when he became the first golfer to capture the Australasian PGA Tour’s triple crown. By winning the tour’s three biggest tournaments—the Australian Open, the PGA and the Masters—in the same season, Allenby ensured his name will go down in history. What he wants most, however, is a win at a majors tournament, a feat that has eluded him during his 15 years as a professional golfer.


Allenby—born on July 12, 1971, in Melbourne, Australia—was the fourth child born to British natives Don and Sylvia Allenby, who had immigrated to Australia. His father had been a golf professional in Leeds, England. Allenby grew up in public housing in Chadstone, Victoria, Australia, and was golfing by age seven. When he was about 13, he met Steve Bann, a pro at Melbourne’s Box Hill Golf Club. Bann befriended Allenby and coached him for 18 years. Allenby also received golf training in a state-run program for promising youth golfers that provided him with first-rate instruction and access to a sports psychologist.


As a 20-year-old amateur, the 6-foot-1, 178-pound Allenby captured the attention of the golf world when he nearly beat fellow Aussie Wayne Riley in the 1991 Australian Open. The near-victory inspired him to turn pro. In the 18 months that followed, Allenby won three events on the Australasian Tour, with his first win coming at the Perak Masters in Malaysia. He ended the 1992 season atop the Australasian Tour money list and also earned rookie of the year honors. Allenby’s immediate success did not surprise former manager Andrew Ramsay. “Right from the start, even when he was a 20-year-old, 57kg whippet, you knew he was going to be a world-beater,” Ramsay told the Herald Sun ‘s Trevor Grant. “He had that look in his eye.”


Over the next few years, Allenby won several events. In 1994, he again won the Australasia PGA Tour’s Order of Merit award—meaning he earned the most money of anyone on the tour. In 1996, Allenby concentrated his efforts on the European Tour and won three tournaments, including the Alamo English Open, Peugeot French Open and the One2One British Masters. It looked like he might even become the leading money-winner on the European Tour that season. Allenby, however, never got the chance to find out. He was just hitting his stride when a car accident in Spain sent his vehicle crashing into a brick roundabout. Ramsay, Allenby’s manager at the time, was in the car and was sure the up-and-coming golf star was dead. Speaking to the Herald Sun , Ramsay recalled the accident. “He’d gone through the windscreen and come back against the seat. I looked at him lying there and shivered. There was blood everywhere. It was the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen.” Remarkably, Allenby sustained only a broken sternum and cuts to his face.


Though he was in ill health, Allenby refused to give up for the season. He flew to Spain for the tour’s final tournament, hobbled to the tee, drove the ball and promptly withdrew. By teeing off, Allenby secured the $170,000 last-place prize, thus ensuring a third-place finish in money standings and an invitation to the U.S. Masters the following spring. He donated the money to a children’s cancer charity. Since 1993, Allenby has been a spokesman and fund-raiser for the Challenge Cancer Support Network, which raises money for children with cancer and blood disorders.


By 1997, Allenby was back on the green full force and posted his first top-10 finish in a major tournament with a 10th-place tie in the British Open. He earned his first two PGA Tour victories in 2000, followed by two more in 2001. Over the next several years, Allenby continued to win events, but a victory in the majors eluded him. “At the majors I don’t seem to putt very well,” he told the Daily Telegraph ‘s John Coomber. "I don’t know why but I can’t make a putt."


Allenby came alive in 2005, though he was plagued by chronic hand inflammation throughout the season, which caused him to wake up with stiff, unbendable fingers. Allenby started his days soaking his fingers in hot water to get them moving. Nonetheless, he went on to win the Australian Open during the 2005 summer season. The following week, Allenby won the Australian PGA title. The next week, he made par on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff against U.S. golfer Bubba Watson to secure a victory at the Australian Masters and become the first-ever winner of the Australasia Tour’s triple crown. No other golfer has ever won the three tournaments in the same season. “I was nervous on every single shot this week and that is the absolute truth,” Allenby told the Australian ‘s Mike Wood shortly after he secured the triple crown. "But I kept telling myself, you’ve got to be strong, it’s a long way from Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon."


Despite his successes and the millions he has won, Allenby continues to feel pressure to win a majors title. Though he is regarded as one of the most talented golfers Australia has ever produced, he has yet to win one of the Big Four: the U.S. PGA Championship, the U.S. Masters, the U.S. Open, or the British Open. The pressure seems to get the best of him. Allenby is so determined to win one that insiders say he gets a little too intense whenever he participates in a majors tournament. The caddies have nicknamed him “The Beast.” During the 1995 British Open, Allenby’s caddie abandoned him during the middle of play, though he returned to help Allenby finish. As of 2005, Allenby had played in 39 majors, missing the cut in 16. He had placed in the top 10 four times.


At one point in 2006, Allenby was ranked the No. 1 golfer in the game—at least statistically—on the all-around U.S. PGA Tour rankings in a figure that takes into account several key statistics, such as driving accuracy, putting, greens in regulation, and sand-saves. His world ranking, however, stood at 41. In the statistical ranking, U.S. golf phenom Tiger Woods ranked 12th, though he topped the world ranking chart. Upon hearing of his statistical ranking, Allenby was unimpressed. “That’s nice,” he told the Daily Telegraph , “but I wish I had something to show for it. Where are all the tournament wins that go with it?”

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