Saturday was a good day for veteran golfer Robert Allenby.
With teenage son Harry carrying his clubs, the 45-year-old Australian shot a season-low 65 in the third round of the Air Capital Classic at Crestview Country Club.
It might be challenging for golf fans to fathom Allenby, a four-time PGA Tour winner, competing on the Web.com Tour. Allenby spent most of a 10-year period ranked in the world’s top 50 and has earned more than $27 million in over 500 PGA Tour events.
But Allenby’s recent seasons were plagued by poor play, well-documented squabbles with caddies and off-course incidents that brought unwanted notoriety. It all led the Australian to his first full season on the Web.com.
Allenby petitioned several PGA Tour events for exemptions in December, but feedback was minimal.
“That just sort of was a little bit gut-wrenching that they didn’t reply to me,” said Allenby, who made two cuts in 23 PGA Tour starts last season. “I was like, ‘You’re only going to hurt your own feelings,’ and I just said, ‘I’m going to stick out a whole year on the Web and see what happens at the end of the year.’ ”
Allenby made his fourth cut in nine starts Friday. In March, he posted a season-best fifth-place finish at the Louisiana Open – also with Harry on the bag.
“It’s such a grind out here,” Allenby said. “This is the first time I’ve ever had to endure it.
“There’s so much great talent out here. I don’t think the rest of the world knows how good the Web.com Tour is. From what I’ve seen, there’s some guys out here who could win on the main tour very quickly and very easily.”
Allenby went out early Saturday and played the front nine in even par before making five birdies on the back. He’ll enter Sunday’s final round at 7-under par.
“I played well on the front nine; I just didn’t make any putts,” Allenby said. “I found the greens today to be a little softer and a little slower.
“My brain just wouldn’t adapt to it. It took like nine holes to adapt and then I started making a few birdies.”
Allenby was arrested outside an Illinois casino and charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing last August after missing the cut at the John Deere Classic. In 2015, he was robbed and beaten in Hawaii during the Sony Open, an incident in which he has no memory of a 2 1/2-hour period after the attack.
A Hawaii man is serving a five-year sentence for using Allenby’s credit cards. But Allenby cited unfair media coverage of the incident – alleging the Golf Channel reported false information – for contributing to his golfing tailspin.
“It destroyed me inside,” Allenby said. “I didn’t want to be seen, I didn’t want to play golf. I lost all confidence in myself because of it.
“But I’m slowly picking up the pieces and hopefully coming back to where I used to be.”
Allenby looked at peace Saturday. After his round he spoke proudly of his son, who will attend the University of Maryland this fall.
“I think it helps you because it keeps you calm and you have a good time,” Allenby said of having Harry caddie. “We dine together. We’re doing everything together.
“In golf, you’re always away from your family a lot. To have part of your family with you is very nice, especially after 26 years on tour.”
Back nine boosts Thompson – Lawrence’s Chris Thompson was a little miffed heading to the back nine after making back-to-back bogeys in the third round.
The former Kansas golfer turned things around with an inward 30 to get to 10-under par.
“I walked off the front nine 2 over and I hardly hit a bad shot,” said Thompson, who is tied for eighth with Denny McCarthy, nine shots behind leader Aaron Wise. “But I felt like I was playing good and there’s certainly some birdie holes on the back.”
Thompson, who is trying to parlay a Monday qualifying spot into more starts on the Web.com, followed the bogeys with five birdies in six holes. He has played the back nine 11 under this week.
“I certainly feel like I’m in the game,” said Thompson, who tied for seventh at Crestview four years ago. “I got a little momentum on the back nine and I’m pleased with where I’m at.”
Etc. – Due to the threat of inclement weather, Sunday’s final round will feature threesomes heading off the first and 10th tees beginning at 9:20 a.m. The final group will start at 11:30. … PGA Tour player Brett Drewitt shot Saturday’s low round with a 7-under 63. His caddie is Kellen Marshall, son of Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall. … Sunday’s champion will receive $112,500.