Building on the experiences &

good and bad &

he's had over the past three years as a professional golfer, Jason Allred has high hopes when he embarks on his second full season on the PGA Tour beginning today.

The 27-year-old Ashland native finished fifth in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament one month ago to set up another opportunity with the big boys, and Allred is confident he's more prepared to meet the challenge than his first try in 2005.

"It just feels a lot different from the first time around," says Allred, who calls Scottsdale, Ariz., home these days. "I don't know that I can put my finger on exactly why, but more than anything I think having done this now for a few years and experiencing some good times and also some challenging times with golf will help me. Those experiences have me in a place now where I feel like I'm more ready this time around."

He'll get his first chance to show it at a site near and dear to his heart, if only for the fact that it represents his highest finish as a PGA Tour member. Allred tied for 17th at the Sony Open in Honolulu in his 2005 debut, and is thrilled to be returning to Waialae Country Club to open his 2008 campaign.

"It's fun to go back to a place where you have had some success," he says.

With his booming drives and deft putting, Allred appeared destined for great things as a tour rookie in 2005. He made six cuts in his first nine events, but then missed 17 of the next 18 to hamper his ability to remain on the tour.

"That's been a trend the last three years where I'll play well at times and then I'll have stretches where I miss several cuts in a row," says Allred, who was a member of the Nationwide Tour the past two years.

To combat that inconsistency, Allred says his plan is to let go a little more this season &

on and off the course.

"I think my first year out there (on the PGA Tour) I felt like I had to do everything so perfect," he says. "One thing I've learned is that's not the case at all."

In 2005, Allred says he put too much pressure on himself to hit perfect shot after perfect shot during his rounds, then would compound that by carrying that over to the practice tee.

"At times it became all encompassing," he admits.

Part of his change for 2008 includes a new attitude of having nothing to lose out on the golf course.

"The times that got rough and stretches where I was missing cuts, I was just being too careful and hurting myself by getting in my own way," he says. "When the tournaments come around now, I'm really just going to try to let it rip a little more and play with what I've got and get the ball in the hole as well as I can."

Always a big hitter &

his measured driving distance was about 305 yards last year &

Allred says his game has matured to where he's becoming more accurate off the tee. In the last couple months, he's also worked hard on refining his short game and reaped the rewards for that during his fifth-place showing at Q-school.

He's also worked hard on the mental aspect of going to work in such a performance-driven field.

"A big part of that is learning to let go of things I can't really control such as results in tournaments," he says. "That may sound counter intuitive, and I say this humbly because I'm still learning, but I'm learning to be better at preparing the best I can and trying my best out there and beyond that understanding there's not much else I can do. Learning to enjoy the process and not the number has been a big learning experience."

As part of that process, Allred says he and his wife Kimberly are just excited about the prospects of getting out on tour again, visiting all the cities hosting PGA Tour events and making new friends.

"My wife and I are so thankful to do what we're doing and get to travel together like we do," says Allred. "We recognize we're really fortunate to start our year in Hawaii. It's such a wonderful gift to be able to do this together. Golf is a job but not who we are. Hopefully we can make great friends and live in a way that can be encouraging for others."

Some of those friends didn't hesitate to welcome Allred back to the Tour when he qualified in early December. He received congratulatory messages right after his sixth and final round from tour regulars Aaron Baddeley, Ben Crane and Jonathan rd.

"It was so much fun to get those calls right after I finished," says Allred. "I'm really excited to have the chance to compete against the best again."

Reach reporter at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com