Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Champions Tour player Michael Allen gets ready to tee off at hole 1 during the second round of the Greater Gwinnett Championship at TPC - Sugarloaf in Duluth Saturday.
DULUTH -- When "self preservation" met "integrity," it cost Michael Allen two strokes.
Leading at 5-under par after finishing his first round Saturday morning, the California native was coming off a bogey on No. 3 when he put his drive between a pair of bunkers and directly in front of a couple of pinecones.
"Out of really self-preservation, I kind of popped them out," Allen said. "Then I realized there was a big divot in there and mud underneath and I thought, 'I probably shouldn't have done that.'"
He hit the shot, destroying any evidence of the pinecones' holes and told his playing partner Mark O'Meara about the situation. When he reached the green, he called a scoring official and reported his penalty and took a two-stroke penalty, turning a par into a double-bogey and dropping him from the lead to two strokes back at the Greater Gwinnett Championship at TPC Sugarloaf.
"I was a little surprised it was two shots, I thought it would be one," Allen said. "It was one of those things that you just do, probably no one would have noticed, but that you just do."
He cited breaking Rule 23, concerning removing loose impediments. They weren't loose and he took the hit. Or two.
"That was something that was pretty obvious to me. I do know the rules and once I did it I certainly knew it," Allen said. "There's no reason to cheat. If I have to cheat to win, I don't want to do it. Maybe it's karma."
Allen finished at 4-under par and two strokes back of leader Esteban Toledo at 6-under as he chases his second straight Champions Tour victory of the season.
Allen double-bogeyed the next hole as well, setting him back five strokes in three holes. He missed a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 6 then chipped in for birdie on No. 7, re-setting him mentally. He played the final 11 holes 3-under par.
"We all have these experiences. I don't think anyone in the game that has competed for a long time hasn't called penalties on themselves. You have to get over them and you have to move on," Allen said. "Something had to happen to kind of get things turned around a little bit. It was nice to get something turned around the right way."
Allen said he'll take anything karma wishes to bestow, but also knows he's playing well enough to make a run at his fifth career Champions Tour win.
"At least right now I haven't taken advantage of something or gotten away with something," Allen said. "I am two shots back and I have a good chance tomorrow."
Sluman rebounds in Round 2
After finishing his first round Saturday morning with a bogey on the par 5 18th at 4-over par, it crossed Jeff Sluman's mind to check out.
"I, frankly, played so bad I didn't know if I was going to play in the afternoon," Sluman said.
In his first round, over two days after Friday's rain storm, the 1988 PGA Championship winner had four bogies and a double, putting him in a group of players tied for 57th.
But during the short break between rounds, Sluman talked with Bob Tway about some of his mechanics, hit the driving range and went out and tried to change his game mid-tournament.
"The hard part is plugging it in on the golf course," Sluman said. "I wasn't beating anybody, so I might as well go out and try it. It felt like I started swinging like my old self after that."
The score showed. Sluman matched Bernhard Langer for the day's best score, a 6-under 66 dropping him to 2-under par and four strokes off of the lead and in the top 10. His play turned so dramatically, Sluman said his play was so strong he could have gone lower.
"I am not going to complain, but I played well enough that I could have been much lower," Sluman said. "At the end of the day, if somebody had said, walking off 18 after my first round, that I was going to shoot 66 I would have told them that they were smoking something."
Tired, sore Perry playing well
Kenny Perry walked up No. 9 fairway, his final hole of the day, looking somewhat labored.
The 2008 runner-up at the AT&T Classic at Sugarloaf kept walking and eventually ran in a long putt for a par save and 1-under round of 71.
He's at 1-over for the tournament.
Not bad for a guy playing in his first tournament since having knee surgery in February and traversing the hilly terrain at Sugarloaf.
"My knee is bothering me. I rode a lot today," Perry said. "I had to play five (holes) this morning. We teed off at 8 a.m. this morning then we played 18 more, so it was a long day. It was a long day on my leg."
The cold weather didn't agree with Perry's healing knee, either, adding extra pain and riding in the cart sometimes stiffened the knee. But Perry shot out his first four holes with three birdies, dropping as low as 3-under par.
"I thought, 'Uh-oh, wait a minute!' but then reality set back in and I started making bogeys again," said Perry, who made just two bogies in the round. "But overall, a good day."
Jones disqualified for tardiness
Gene Jones, who was 1-over after the first round at Sugarloaf, missed his tee time for Saturday's second round, arriving about 40 minutes after his scheduled 11:20 time and was disqualified.
In his fifth year on the Champions Tour, the North Carolina native is looking for his first top-5 finish since February of 2010. Health issues kept him out in 2011 and he had one top-10 in 2012 and qualified the this Champions Tour season through the tour's Q-School.