Shatel: Competition is heating up, but Allen isn't cooked yet - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 1:11 am
GOLF
Shatel: Competition is heating up, but Allen isn't cooked yet

Michael Allen got out of the kitchen. Now we'll see if he can stand the heat.

We have a horse race. We have a golf tournament here at Omaha Country Club. This U.S. Senior Open is turning into everything we could have hoped. Big names. Big crowds. Jammed leader board. And slow-cooked prime rib.

The stage is set for Sunday drama before Sunday history, and for that we have Allen to thank. The San Francisco pro has been quite the host this week.

He provided Omaha fireworks on Friday, shooting a 63. Then he decided it wouldn't be fair to run away from the field. He shot a 2-over 72 in a Nebraska steam bath and wound up at 8 under, just two shots ahead of Kenny Perry and Fred Funk and only four shots ahead of the oncoming Corey Pavin.

Allen was doing a four-hour bake, and that was just Thursday night.

The pro had agreed to be part of an auction for juvenile diabetes in which he made dinner for four couples at the Omaha home of his hosts, Tom and Julie Taylor.

Allen spent $350 on groceries, Tom Taylor said. The dinner, for 20 guests, raised $1,900 for diabetes. Allen's daughter Michelle is diabetic.

He made an 18-pound prime rib, a dish with green beans, bacon and butter that was cooked on the grill and a dessert with whipped cream and berries.

“It was perfect,” Tom Taylor said.

Because Allen's wife and two daughters didn't arrive here until Thursday, the dinner was moved to Thursday night. Which made for an interesting first round for Allen.

“He put the prime rib on before he left for his morning round,” Tom said. “At about 12:20 (p.m.), he's on the 13th hole and he finds me in the gallery and calls me over. He says, 'Make sure somebody takes the prime rib out and puts it at room temperature.'”

I don't know who should be covering this tournament, the Golf Channel or the Food Network.

The day after serving dinner, Allen shot his 63, which prompted him to say late Saturday afternoon, “Maybe I should make dinner again tonight.”

Good news: The Taylors were having make-your-own pizza night on Saturday night.

INTERACTIVE MAP
See an interactive map with multiple aerial views of Omaha Country Club and its surrounding areas.

Bad news: The open-air oven at OCC will be on bake Sunday. The heat will be on, in more ways than one.

So who's going to win? What's it going to take? Here's a list of the contenders, which could go five deep and maybe more.

» Allen: He had a roller-coaster round, going 1 under, then 2 over, back to even and finally 2 over. It was this simple: Whenever Allen missed a fairway or green, he paid a price. That's what this golf course is about.

Some pros aren't too fond of the slopes on some of the fairways, which can feed a shot into the rough. That happened to Allen on his second shot from the rough on 18, which hit the fairway and found rough again.

He took his bogey there and went looking for shade. Every player was hot. Allen looked hot. His clothes were sweat-stained. At one point, you could see him tinkering with his neck, which has bothered him since last fall and has flared up this week.

But just because Allen stumbled in, with a neck that needs treatment, doesn't mean he's wobbly. He's won a senior major, the 2009 Senior PGA, and he's shot 71-70-71 in three Senior Open final rounds.

» Perry: When handicapping a horse race, a man from Kentucky isn't a bad place to look. Especially this one.

The USGA watered the greens and several players took advantage, led by Perry and his 64. He's coming off a win in his last start, the Constellation Senior Players, a major. His presence on the leader board sent a buzz through the old course. It's a game-changer.

Like a racehorse, Perry is streaky. In the final three rounds of the Constellation, he went 63-63-64. Lots of people will have their money on the Kentuckian today.

» Funk: Crowd favorite. Former Senior Open winner (2009). Now, if he could only just skip the 10th hole.

The crotchety par-5-turned-4 is in Funk's head. He parred it on Thursday but has gone bogey and double bogey since. He doesn't know what to hit off the tee. He doesn't like the tee box. He complained openly to a USGA official after his Saturday double there.

If Funk pars that hole on Saturday, he's tied for the lead. He's playing well and he's got a hot putter. Somehow, Funk's destiny Sunday will be tied to how he handles his old nemesis.

» Pavin: The 1995 U.S. Open champ finished second in the Senior Open last year. He shot a 68 in the final round. In his three Senior Open final rounds, he's gone 68-69-68.

At four shots back, Pavin might have to shoot at least a 65. But he's certainly capable. If he gets off to a fast start, there might be some electric sparks flying around the last two groups of Pavin-Funk and Perry-Allen.

» Rocco Mediate: Rocco was only three shots back of Allen before he started missing fairways. He loves the U.S. Open and can make a run. But at five shots back, he may have to go 7 under today. He's going to need a lot of help to be in this thing.

There's a gang at 2 under that will need even more help, and that's a problem on the Champions Tour.

“Most of the guys have won a lot of tournaments,” Pavin said. “So you don't see a lot of backing up on Sunday. To win a tournament here, you have to go out and win the tournament.”

» Finally, the OCC course: It will be interesting to see how the USGA sets the Sunday stage. They're sensitive enough not to kill the greens that they have been putting water on them. But how soft do they want them Sunday?

Will it be attack mode for the players? Or defense mode?

And what about the pin placements?

Get ready for another four-hour bake, with all of the trimmings.

Contact the writer: Tom Shatel

tom.shatel@owh.com    |   402-444-1025    |  

Tom Shatel is a sports columnist who covers the city, regional and state scene.

Read more related stories
Fresno State coach has embraced spread attack
Small-town Nebraska native becomes big-time comic book writer
Boys high schoolt track and field leaders
Tennis notes: Paluch, CU ready for Big East tournament
Nebraska prep boys Class B-C-D leaders
Williamsen, Mavericks limit Creighton offense in win
Huskers, Jays look to build momentum
Reetz leads Norris over Westside in showdown of top-ranked teams
8% of alcohol sellers checked in Omaha area last week sold booze to minors
Cowboys, Indians unite in opposition to Keystone XL pipeline
OPS bus, SUV collide; no students onboard at the time
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Strong second half leads SkyHawks past Gretna
Mavs’ Elsasser tosses no-no in sweep of North Dakota
Hurdlers give Huskers solid foundation
Doniphan native Lemek captures MVC title
State regulator tells 2 ride services eyeing Omaha, Lincoln to cease and desist
Proposed 5% hike in cab fares meets reluctant state transportation official
Google signs deal with MidAmerican Energy to power Bluffs data center
Chasers earn series split with Nashville
Inmate van driver convicted of killing Lincoln woman in crash to be sentenced in June
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Tom Brewer shakes up campaign staff, optimistic about race with Adrian Smith
Supreme Court conflicted on Aereo’s streaming TV service
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
ON TWITTER »

TODAY'S LOCAL SCOREBOARD
Tuesday's Top Events
PCL baseball
Omaha 5, Nashville 1
College baseball
UNO 4, Creighton 1

Game Time, TV/Radio Schedule
Tuesday's Area Events
Tuesday's TV/Radio Schedule
Wednesday's Area Events
Wednesday's TV/Radio Schedule

Prep Results
NEPrepZone.com (mobile)

Others
Honors
Holes in One
Dog Racing Results
Horse Racing Entries, Horse Racing Results
VIDEO »
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Blog: Dirk's 'Mad Chatter'
Dirk Chatelain offers his thoughts on the latest news from around the sports world, complete with links to the best articles, opinion columns, YouTube videos and more.
Civic Auditorium Timeline
World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel asked readers for their favorite memories of the Civic Auditorium. We combined their submissions with a few key events or moments in the auditorium's history.
CWS: Banner Years
The College World Series historical database, a growing home for historical information about past NCAA baseball championships, which have been played in Omaha since 1950.
Downtown Omaha event map
Discover the area surrounding the CenturyLink Center, TD Ameritrade Park and downtown Omaha -- including restaurants, arts & entertainment venues, hotels and local retail outlets.
Facebook: Tom Shatel's page
Get Tom Shatel's sports columns delivered straight to your Facebook feed.
Follow Tom Shatel on Twitter
Get instant analysis and commentary from World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel on Twitter.
Nebraska high school basketball's greatest night
Four elite teams. Two buzzer-beaters. One packed house. On March 11, 1989, the stars aligned and produced the best night in Nebraska high school basketball history.
Shatel's blog
Check out the latest from World-Herald sports columnist Tom Shatel.
Shatel: Tom's Take on 20 Unforgettable Years in Sports
Get World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel's book "Shatel: Tom's Take on 20 Unforgettable Years in Sports."
Super Bowl: Through the years
The Super Bowl is a yearly media madhouse. See how The World-Herald sports section's front pages portrayed each of the Super Bowl victories won by those players celebrated in our Mt. Rushmore of Super Bowl QBs.
Talk sports with World-Herald reporters
World-Herald reporters log on to talk about the latest news surrounding the Huskers, Jays, Mavericks, high schools sports and more. Check out the upcoming chat schedule or replay the latest discussions with the fans.
The disappearance of small-town football
Friday night lights across rural Nebraska are going dark. But one town, in its last season of gridiron independence, proved that school spirit is stronger than ever.
The Nebraska 100
In an historic 2005 series, The World-Herald selected the state’s all-time top 100 athletes. In a new web exclusive, see the digitized collection for the first time.
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »