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Allred lives the dream, but we, too, are benefiting

Commentary

Maybe we're looking at this all wrong? Or at least partially wrong.

Rogue Valley golf fans have been giddy over the opportunity that knocked on Jason Allred's door. He's living the dream, going to work every day in paradise, playing a game for which he can't get enough.

We're happy for him, certainly. But we also have been given an opportunity. We get to follow the young Ashland product on the grandest of stages. He plays well and our spirits rise, our day brightens. He has a bad day and it's as if clouds rolled in.

Overstated? Maybe.

But how fun was it watching his success at the Sony Open in Hawaii, coming out of nowhere to make the television leaderboard in his first event? How disconcerting was it when he stumbled and missed the cut a week later? How exhilarating was it the next week when he climbed to second place after a couple of holes in the third round, only to falter in the end?

— Our emotions are on a downhill, double-breaking joy ride.

I'll spend this week covering Allred at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am intent on presenting a variety of sides to his glamorous and enviable career.

On Tour with Allred will be a collection of stories and tidbits that explore how the 24-year-old prepares in practice rounds, on the driving range and putting greens, how he interacts with fans and they him, what some of his fellow pros have to say about him, how his wife and parents handle a particular round, what his caddie packs in his bag, a look at the weekly fellowship players, wives and caddies attend and maybe a little star gazing at the celebrity field.

When the opportunity ' there's that word again ' presented itself to do this project, we needed only Allred's consent. And anyone who's followed his career in our pages knows how accommodating he is.

His wife, Kimberly, is, too. She's agreed to write a personal account of her role in all of this.

And speaking of Allred in our pages, I followed memory lane and checked our library: 200 stories with his name dating to July 7, 1993. That first one told of the 12-year-old Allred shooting rounds of 88 and 82 at Oregon Golf Club in Portland to place 30th in the U.S. Junior Golf Championships.

Now it's come to this.

Allred was to play in the pro-am at Monterey Peninsula Country Club Monday, then hit a course early today for a practice round. He likes to be one of the first ones out, and that's made easier by the fact he doesn't need a tee time.

Imagine.

He's then scheduled to practice with Lee Janzen Wednesday. Janzen, a two-time U.S. Open winner and one-time Players Championship victor, extended the invitation during the Hope. The two hadn't met before but have ties through a college fellowship retreat.

Then it's into the tournament that includes big-time celebrities. There will be three days of play on three courses ' Pebble Beach, Poppy Hills and Spyglass ' then a cut to the final round at Pebble Beach Sunday.

Based on what I've seen the past couple of months, I believe his story will be well received.

For instance, it was Day 2 of the Sony Open when I went to Rogue Valley Country Club, Allred's home course growing up. A quick visit to the pro shop told all you needed to know: Not a person came by who didn't talk about Allred.

Jim Wise, the pro, tended to business while customizing the pgatour.com Web site to highlight Allred on the leaderboard.

I bet there are hundreds of computers turned to this site, he said.

I'm thinking thousands.

About the same time, I received an e-mail from Bob Haney, the former Oak Knoll Golf Course pro who has opened a golf shop in Ashland. He told of how Allred helped him put on a benefit tournament to aid Haney's girlfriend, who had cancer. Allred signed golf balls for that 1997 event, and they were raffled. During the dinner, Haney told the audience that this young man would one day make the PGA Tour and win the Masters.

Let's see in the coming years if I am correct, he wrote, adding that he still has two of the autographed balls.

The tournament raised &

36;12,000 for Ellie Nelson, who passed away in 1999.

A couple of weeks later, I was talking to Bob Davidson about a completely unrelated subject. Still, it turned to golf. Davidson lives in Ashland and marshals at Stone Ridge Golf Club.

He, too, follows Allred closely. He, too, has a couple of the golf balls tucked away.

There are countless stories about Allred and there is boundless interest in his burgeoning career.

It'll be a pleasure this week bringing it a little closer to home.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail