Alker Hosts Champions' Dinner, Eyes Historic Title Defense
As is tradition, the defending champion of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship hosted a Champions’ dinner the Tuesday night of tournament week.
For Steven Alker, whose journey up and down golf’s ladder finally culminated in him finding his footing in 2022 and winning the PGA Tour Champions’ Player of the Year honor, playing host in a room full of so many of the game’s finest winners was quite the dream-come-true.
But he’s still got work to do this week if he hopes to successfully defend his KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Fields Ranch East.
“Feeling good. Obviously last week was good preparation coming into this week,” said Alker, who teed it up at the 105th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club.
Alker served lamb – a traditional dish in New Zealand – and fish at the Champions Dinner plus a New Zealand dessert with a Texas twist. Stories were told. The night was fun, he said. And the company was all-time.
“I think last night (being the winner of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship) sunk in. Just being in that company that I was in that night,” said Alker. “That was pretty cool. That was pretty neat. You just kind of look down the table and you go, ‘We’ve got everybody here,’ which is really neat.
“I haven't experienced that. That was pretty cool.”
One thing Alker has experienced, however, is winning – a lot – on PGA Tour Champions.
Alker turned 50 in July 2021 and won his first tournament on the over-50 circuit in November of that year. With the win, Alker earned more than $896,000 in the nine PGA Tour Champions events he teed it up in from July-onwards. That was more than he made in his entire PGA Tour career.
He won four times on PGA Tour Champions in 2022, including the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship for hist first senior major. He topped Stephen Ames by three shots after shooting a tidy 9-under 63 in the final round at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores.
The last golfer to successfully defend his KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship title was Colin Montgomerie, who won in 2014-15. Hale Irwin, all the way back in 1996-97, was the previous golfer to pull the trick.
Alker looks to add his name to the records book this week and he’s been playing some great golf already this season on PGA Tour Champions. He started the season with a tie for second and he won the Insperity Invitational in late April. In six tournaments so far in 2023, he’s finished first or second in half of them.
“Just starting to get in the swing of it and kind of starting to get to where I really want to get to,” Alker said.
The golf course this week in Frisco, Texas is a first-time host for the best in the world and Alker said it feels like a second-shot golf course. Missing it in the right place around the greens will be key along with being in the right part of the fairway.
Alker, however, feels good about his chances around this new venue.
“I like going to a new golf course personally. I like going to a new golf course and try to scope it out and a bit more work to do and see what's involved. I kind of like that,” Alker said. “I guess we'll get a feel after one or two rounds exactly how it's playing, what the scores are going to be, and go from there.”
The defending champion is hoping that ‘there,’ in this instance, is right back inside the winner’s circle.