PAST problems are behind him and Robert Allenby says his best golf could be ahead of him as his career goes full circle with a return to the Vic Open this week.
The 45-year-old last played the tournament in 1999, having won as an amateur in 1991 as a precocious 20-year-old, his first victory in a professional event.
It was the launching pad into a professional career, which included another 21 worldwide victories in the US, Europe and Australia.
His career has also been littered with a series of controversial off-course activities that threatened to overshadow his golfing success.
But perspective, and family time, have been Allenby's ally through recent tough times and his work with the Challenge Cancer Charity, for which he has raised more than $30 million, helps force him to keep his chin up.
That extends to his golf game, which Allenby believes it still good enough to compete with the big-bombing young brigade, as evidenced by a 360m drive in the pro-am at Thirteenth Beach.
And he still harbours ambitions of a return to the main US PGA Tour, where he has won just under $36 million, which he hopes to do via the secondary web.com tour, with his teenage son set to caddie for him when he finishes high school.
Allenby had six birdies and an eagle in the pro-am, suggesting a win this week is not beyond him in a field that also contains European Tour winners Richard Green and Brett Rumford.
But Allenby was just happy to be back in a good frame of mind, content to play for $500,000, and said a win would just be a bonus.
"Things are great. I am at that time in my life where, yeah, I want to play on the main tour full-time, but I am also enjoying having a little bit of a break," Allenby said.
"Coming down here I feel relaxed, I feel good about everything. Whether I play good or bad this week, I know it's going to be a great week.
"I've had a few issues over the last few years, a loss of confidence and a few fears crept into my game. But it's starting to come back now and I'm hitting the ball like I used to.
"Honestly I think I am hitting the ball better now than I have in my whole career. Golf is one of those games it doesn't matter how old you are, as you get older you just get smarter.
"I don't have any regrets on anything. I just keep pushing through and am playing some of the best golf I have ever played and hopefully the best is yet to come, and it's here this week.
"I'd love to win this week."
Allenby is a $34 chance to win at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads in an open TAB market topped by 2015 Vic open winner Green at $13.