DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — What started with one good round has taken Jason Allred places he never imagined.
He shot 66 to qualify for the Northern Trust Open, and then parlayed that into a 64 in the second round at Riviera that carried him to a tie for third and more money ($388,600) than the 34-year-old had made in his entire PGA Tour career.
Allred made the most of his most recent chance. He was given a sponsor's exemption to the Memorial, shot 68 in the second round to make the cut and then closed with a 66 to tie for 15th and pick up another six-figure check.
"It's been such a fun journey the last couple of months," Allred said. "If you sat me down at the start of the year and said, 'This is what's going to happen,' on the one hand I would have thought you were crazy. But at the same time, all along I've believed in my ability to do this. The thing is, I'm learning to believe in it more, which is fun."
Allred played only two full years on the PGA Tour out of Pepperdine, the last time in 2008. Why it took him until 34 to figure it out can be explained in one word — golf.
This is not a guy who takes these chances for granted.
He still remembers where he was when tournament director Dan Sullivan called him on the Saturday night before the Memorial to offer him the spot. And he was at Muirfield Village deep into every evening during the tournament, enjoying the moment with his family. His third child was born a week after his tie for third at Riviera.
His letters requesting an exemption are not run of the mill.
"He wrote a nice, compelling, personal letter to the exemption committee," Sullivan said. "And that stuck with them."
Allred said he sent an email that included links to stories about his week at Riviera, along with photos of his family to give a glimpse of his life off the golf course, and then he followed that with a handwritten note.
"Just try to let them know how much I love this game," Allred said. "We try to be a blessing to others, to engage the fans and really enjoy it."
The season is getting short. There are only six tournaments remaining where Allred can hope for an exemption. He is the equivalent of 145th in the FedEx Cup standings. If he could get equal points to No. 125 before the playoffs, he would have his tour card. If nothing else, he is assured a spot in the four-tournament Web.com Tour Finals.
"That is such a bonus," Allred said. "I feel like if you're playing well in four tournaments, you'll have a chance."
A BOOST TO ARNIE AND JACK: The PGA Tour is honoring two of its most important players — Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus — by making their tournaments a little more meaningful in what has become a crowded golf schedule.
In a resolution approved at the last policy board meeting, winners of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the Memorial will received a three-year exemption, instead of the two-year exemption from other PGA Tour events.
The tour also is discussing whether to allow the prize money at their events to be the highest this side of a major, World Golf Championship or The Players Championship.
Palmer and Nicklaus, along with a half-century of star power in golf, led the move in the late 1960s to break away from the PGA of America and form what is now the PGA Tour. Palmer bought Bay Hill in the late 1970s, and it has become a staple on the Florida swing. Nicklaus started his tournament at Muirfield Village in 1976.
In some respects, the tour is acknowledging how difficult it is for tournaments to distinguish themselves. In the last 15 years, the PGA Tour has added four WGCs and three FedEx Cup playoff events to the schedule.
"This was more our desire to recognize two iconic figures who started and operate two world-class tournaments that for decades were linchpins on our schedule," said Andy Pazder, the tour's chief of operations. "We wanted to make sure their place on the tour calendar, as far as being a high-caliber, world-class event, was secure for well into the future."