Hitting stride at 50, Allen in contention at AT&T

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a lifetime record of 0-for-336 on the PGA Tour, Michael Allen is certainly due.

Allen put himself into contention at the AT&T National on Saturday with a third-round 65. He was at 9-under 201 for the tournament, only one shot behind leaders Tiger Woods and Anthony Kim.

"I've worked hard at my game for 20 years now, 25 years," Allen said. "And it's about time it's started paying off."

Allen, who turned 50 in January, had a rare taste of victory last month when he won the Senior PGA Championship in his Champions Tour debut. Before that, his only significant wins were distant memories: the 1989 Scottish Open on the European tour and the 1998 Greater Austin Open on the Nationwide Tour.

He also had a decent showing last week, finishing 14th at the Travelers Championship.

"I'm aging well," Allen said. "For me that's always been my goal until I really feel like I can't play out here - I want to compete against the best players in the world, and this is where they're at, and this is where I like playing."

For a while, he was hardly playing anywhere. Allen gave up the tour life for a while in the late 1990s and worked in the home construction business and as a teaching pro. He was interviewing to work at Donald Trump's course in Bedminster, N.J., in 2001 - and was expecting to get the job - when he gave Q-school another shot and regained his PGA Tour card.

"I ended up called them up and saying, 'You're fired. I'm not going to do this."' Allen said.

Now he has a shot at winning the tournament hosted by the top player in the world. For comparison's sake: Woods has earned 31 paychecks of $1 million or more in his PGA Tour career; Allen has cracked the $1 million mark for an entire season only once.

"That would be just what I've always wanted to do, to beat the best player in the world and to come out on a great golf course like this, not just a birdie fest," Allen said. "That would certainly validate that everything I've worked on for the last four or five years are legitimate, that personally I can handle the emotions of playing against the best players and controlling myself."

TIGER'S UNLUCKY NUMBER: If it weren't for the 11th hole, Tiger Woods would have a comfortable lead at his own tournament.

Woods is 4 over at the 489-yard, par-4 hole through the first three rounds, the victim of all sorts of calamities. On Friday, his sand shot hit the lip of the bunker on the way out, and on Saturday he found himself in two different traps on the left side of the green.

"The first day I drove it right in the middle of the fairway and made bogey," Woods said. "Yesterday I drove it in the right bunker and made bogey, and today I drove it from the left hill and made double."

So what's in store for Sunday?

"Tomorrow I'll probably hit wedge off the tee," Woods said with a laugh. "And then I'll hit 3-wood and then hit a 5-iron on there, whatever."

STAR-SPANGLED PINS: The American flag, as most everyone knows, should never touch the ground. That made things a bit tricky for the caddies Saturday.

For the Fourth of July, the Blue Course at Congressional replaced the usual flag with the hole's number with a miniature Old Glory atop the pin at every hole.

"I was definitely more careful," said Mark Carens, who carried the bag for James Driscoll. "You definitely thought about it more than you normally do."

Inevitably, there were going to be mishaps. Bill Harke, the caddie for Peter Lonard, reacted quickly when he accidentally dropped the pin on the 15th green.

"It just slipped out of my hand and hit the ground," Harke said. "It wasn't on the ground long. I knew it was bound to happen - it was going to let one hit the ground."

NOT YOUR EVERYDAY DUO: The 1:10 p.m. pairing featured the U.S. Open champion and the U.S. Amateur champion, and they nearly matched each other stroke-for-stroke.

Lucas Glover, who took the Open title this month at Bethpage, finally pulled ahead of Amateur winner Danny Lee with a 19-foot birdie putt at No. 17. Glover's 68 and Lee's 69 kept them both in the top 10 on a tight leaderboard.

"Lucas is such a great guy and really nice and really relaxed, and he just talked like my friend and was really nice to me," Lee said. "He played awesome, too. I think we both played awesome today."

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