By Brad Ziemer

James Allenby hasn’t exactly crash landed, but he has returned to Planet Earth. The Langley native has played like a mere mortal in his last two starts. After a string of remarkable rounds and finishes, Allenby arrived at Gallagher’s Canyon for this week’s GolfBC Championship coming off two straight missed cuts.

That’s golf. Just when you think you have it figured out, the game comes back and bites you.

After starting the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada season with a tie for second at the Canada Life Open in Vancouver, Allenby missed the cut the following week at the Bayview Place DCBank Open in Victoria. He bounced back from that setback and Monday qualified his way into last week’s RBC Canadian Open, where Allenby played his first PGA Tour event at Hamilton Golf & Country Club. He played well in Hamilton, shooting two straight rounds of even-par 70, but missed the cut by two shots. He was obviously disappointed not to play the weekend, but Allenby called his Canadian Open experience invaluable.

“The event as a whole was really a good experience for me to get my toes wet and experience a PGA Tour event,” Allenby said after his Wednesday practice round at Gallagher’s. “There was so much there to take in, it just helps for the next time I am in that position to be even that much more comfortable. Every experience that you have just feeds into the next and makes things run a bit smoother, I guess you could say.”

Allenby, who has no official status on the Mackenzie Tour, feels like he has been given a huge opportunity. In addition to his sponsor’s exemption into the GolfBC Championship, Allenby has accepted invitations to play in the next two events in Lethbridge, Alta., and Windsor, Ont.

Those exemptions came after Allenby absolutely lit it up on the Vancouver Golf Tour and at a regional qualifier for the RBC Canadian Open. At one point he played four straight competitive rounds in a total of 37-under par.

“I think all that good play did the trick,” Allenby said. “It’s huge for me to get spots in these events. It just helps not missing events when you are trying to put this season together and finish in the top five. Even missing just one event can be big.”

The tour does a reshuffle after its sixth event in Toronto. There is a special category for non-members like Allenby who have made enough money to fall inside the top 60 on the money list. Allenby is currently fifth on the money list with the $17,600 he made in Vancouver.
After the reshuffle, Allenby should be exempt into the final six events of the 12-tournament Mackenzie Tour season.

“I am just trying to build off all this good play and riding the momentum that I have created, even though there was a hiccup in Victoria and obviously a missed cut in Hamilton,” he said. “But there are still good thing to take away from both those events. I just want to try to carry it forward and finish as high as I can on this tour.”

Allenby still feels good about his game and has high expectations heading into the GolfBC Championship.

“Overall, the game is pretty much still the same,” he said. “I feel like I am swinging just as well. My putting stroke feels great. That’s golf, you can show up one place and shoot 63 and show up at another place and shoot 70 and still feel like you played the same. That’s how it is.”
His main challenge this week has been to get familiar with Gallagher’s Canyon, a course he had not played in many years. After two practice rounds this week, Allenby feels like he is ready to go.

“I am slowly but surely figuring out my game plan,” he said. “Overall, my first impressions are that there are a lot of different shots off the tee, a bunch of options on a lot of the holes where you can just hit a little less club and find the fairway or you can take driver and try to drive it all the way down — it’s a matter of how much risk you want to take on.”

Allenby begins his GolfBC Championship at 9:15 a.m. Thursday off the 10th tee with playing partners Michael Nedoszytko, an assistant pro at Nicklaus North Golf Course in Whistler, and 14-year-old Cooper Humphreys of Kelowna.