They could be polarising figures throughout their respective careers but what is without question is David Graham’s and Robert Allenby’s place among the greatest players this country has ever produced.
Graham and Allenby face off in Round 2 of our search for Australia’s Greatest Golfer after the pair advanced with wins over Brad Kennedy and Brendan Jones respectively in the first round.
With an unrelenting work ethic and single-minded determination Graham ascended to a place few Australian golfers have ever achieved, his wins at the 1979 US PGA Championship and 1981 US Open securing his status as the only male Australian player to win two of golf’s US majors.
Graham also finished top-five at the Masters (1980) and The Open (1985) and enjoyed success on Australian soil as well, his 1977 Australian Open triumph at The Australian the high point of his six Australasian tour titles.
Elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2014, Graham was never one to back down from an issue and often butted heads with golf’s hierarchy, something Allenby also knows something about.
An dominant force on the Australasian Tour from the moment he won the 1991 Victorian Open and almost snatched the 1991 Australian Open as a 20-year-old amateur, Allenby has had his moments with officialdom, caddies and fans. Yet through his memorable Triple Crown run in 2005, outstanding PGA TOUR career and charitable work with Challenge in particular owns a special place in the annals of Aussie golf.
In the wake of his 1991 coming out party at Royal Melbourne, Allenby’s first Australasian Tour win came a year later in Malaysia at the Perak Masters. Victory later that year at the Johnnie Walker Australian Classic by five strokes not only secured Allenby Rookie of the Year honours but the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit.
Four consecutive rounds of 70 secured Allenby the 1994 Australian Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club but it was at the turn of the century that his career went to a new level.
A four-time winner on the European Tour, Allenby’s first PGA TOUR title came at the 2000 Shell Houston Open and he followed that up with a second three months later at the Advil Western Open, both wins coming by way of playoff.
He won the first of his four Australian PGA titles in December that year and then in 2005 went on a record-breaking three-week run where he won the Australian Open, Australian PGA and beat Bubba Watson in a playoff to claim the MasterCard Masters and a unique slice of history.
Given the undeniable quality of his ball-striking and a mindset that helped build a 10-3 career playoff record, Allenby’s performances in the majors are somewhat surprising, recording top-10 finishes at the US Open, Open Championship and US PGA but with a best result of a tie for seventh at the 2004 US Open and 2008 Open Championship.
Career wins: 38
Major wins: 2 (1979 US PGA Championship, 1981 US Open)
Australasian Tour wins: 6
Australian Open: Won (1977)
Career wins: 22
PGA TOUR wins: 4
European Tour wins: 4
Australasian Tour wins: 12
Australian Open: Won (1994, 2005)
Australian PGA: Won (2000, 2001, 2005, 2009)