Alker shoots final-round 63 to win Senior PGA

Golf

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Ten months in the past, Steve Alker was about to show 50 with none ensures of getting on the PGA Tour Champions as a result of his skilled profession left lots to be desired.

Over three many years, he performed greater than 550 tournaments on six excursions. Solely three of these seasons had been on the PGA Tour. Two different seasons had been in Europe.

Now the New Zealander is the most well liked participant on the senior circuit.

His newest and biggest feat got here Sunday at Harbor Shores by Lake Michigan when Alker overcame a four-shot deficit by making 9 birdies in a closing 8-under 63 to seize the Senior PGA Championship.

His three-shot victory over Stephen Ames was Alker’s fourth in his previous 11 tournaments.

“It has been an incredible trip out right here, and I am having fun with myself,” mentioned Alker, who earned $630,000 together with his third victory of the yr, pushing his season earnings to simply over $1.8 million. “The primary couple of weeks had been OK. I would not say I am snug but, however simply snug taking part in with the fellows out right here.”

Alker completed at 16-under 268.

Alker’s superb play this season has definitely impressed his colleagues, particularly Ames, who managed a 70 to complete runner-up. Bernhard Langer, the 64-year-old surprise from Germany, briefly tied for the lead on the again 9 and shot 71 to complete third.

“I’ve watched Steven play on the European tour and the Korn Ferry Tour,” mentioned Ames, whose spherical included 4 birdies and three bogeys. “Hastily out right here, wow. It is improbable, nice to see.”

The victory additionally secured Alker a spot subsequent yr within the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. So pedestrian was life in golf earlier than 50 that he might be making his PGA Championship debut.

“It is simply perseverance with a capital P,” Alker mentioned about his profession turnaround.

Alker, who birdied three of his first 5 holes, bogeyed the tough 443-yard seventh however then ran off 4 birdies in a row starting at No. 8. He added birdies Nos. 15 and 16 to shut the door on the competitors.

Alker, who performed within the penultimate group Sunday, was snug chasing Ames, Langer and Mike Weir.

“I used to be very, very calm,” he mentioned. “I wished it however I had lots of floor to make up. I did not need to push too exhausting and go too aggressive. So I acquired a pleasant begin, made some good putts. I simply form of did every thing nicely right now.”

Ames, who had a share of the 36-hole lead with housemate Scott McCarron at 8 beneath and was the solo 54-hole chief by two strokes over Langer and Weir, mentioned Harbor Shores performed in a different way Sunday due to hotter temperatures within the low 80s and south-southwest wind gusting to 25 mph.

“The traces and golf equipment had been completely different off the tee, however I feel everyone adjusted nicely,” Ames mentioned. “Clearly, some performed higher than others.”

One who did not was Langer, who now has 4 top-10 finishes at Senior PGAs performed at Harbor Shores however not a victory. Searching for his twelfth senior main title, Langer bogeyed three straight holes beginning at No. 12 for a closing 71 and a 10-under 274.

Weir (72), Miguel Angel Jimenez (69), K.J. Choi (65) and Paul Goydos (71) tied for fourth.

Langer, who made 4 birdies on his entrance 9, needed to play out of two divots on the 548-yard tenth earlier than managing to avoid wasting his par 5.

“That basically stopped the momentum,” mentioned Langer, who then bogeyed Nos. 13-15. “It was clearly a missed alternative. I used to be 14-under main by one with eight holes to go and simply did not shut it.”

Ames birdied Nos. 2 and three to construct a three-shot lead at 14-under. However Ames gave a stroke again with a bogey on the tough seventh gap overlooking Lake Michigan, and Alker, Langer and others started to shut in.

Langer caught Ames at 13 beneath together with his third birdie of the day at No. 8 after which added one other birdie at par-5 ninth to show at 14 beneath.

Alker, in the meantime, began the day with 4 straight 3s, two of them birdies, after which after bogeying the seventh, strung collectively 4 birdies starting on the quick 376-yard eighth gap to achieve 14-under by way of 11.

When Ames birdied the 133-yard eleventh, he joined Alker and Langer in a three-way tie, and so they had successfully separated themselves from the remainder of the sphere.

The three-way tie did not final lengthy as Langer made bogey from the green on the twelfth, after which he hooked his tee shot on the 193-yard thirteenth into the tough on method to a second straight bogey to fall two again at 12-under. He and Ames then bogeyed the par-4 14th.

Up forward, Alker made birdie on the 508-yard, par-5 fifteenth by the Paw Paw River and he out of the blue discovered himself in charge of the event at 15-under. His closing birdie at 16 and two par saves on the closing holes secured the title.

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