Alker’s Magical Run Continues; Captures His First Major Title
Steven Alker’s magical run to the top of the PGA Tour Champions continued on Sunday as he captured his first major title at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
After accepting the trophy from PGA of America President Jim Richerson, Alker crouched down and gazed at the trophy in awe. He turned the base so he could see each of the names etched beside his own. It was a surreal moment for a man who just nine months ago didn’t have status on the PGA Tour Champions but on Sunday saw his name etched along the game’s greats.
“First I saw Arnold Palmer,” Alker said about looking at the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy, “you twist it and you see Lee Trevino and you see Jack Nicklaus and you see Tom Watson. It's an amazing trophy, you see the names and you choke up a little bit. It's pretty cool.”
Playing in the penultimate group, Alker mounted a stunning comeback by carding the low round of the day with an eight-under par 63 to overtake 54-hole leader Stephen Ames to win in his debut at Harbor Shores. Alker’s final round of 63 matches the record set by Paul Broadhurst in 2018.
“I was very, very calm. I wanted it but I had a lot of ground to make up. I didn't want to push too hard and go too aggressive, because around here, you can, you can come unstuck pretty quick,” Alker said about his plan on Sunday.
Alker, 50, said ahead of the final round that he’d need to be aggressive to overcome the four-stroke deficit with which he started the day to have a chance of winning. The New Zealander immediately got to work by making birdie on three of his first five holes. He carded his lone bogey of the day at No. 7 and then put his foot down on the accelerator as he went on to birdie holes No. 8 - 11 to climb to the top of the leaderboard. He added back to back birdies at Nos. 15 and 16 to jump to the outright lead and pull ahead by two with just two holes to play.
“I just kind of did everything well today. Just the whole package, just stayed calm and made good decisions and putted nicely and drove it better and that all adds up to 63.”
Alker’s final round 63 is one better than the opening round he carded to hold the first round lead on Thursday. But when cold and windy conditions moved into Harbor Shores on Friday, Alker struggled to one of his few over-par rounds of the season with a one-over, 72 to drop out of the lead. He rebounded with a round of 69 on moving day to sit four strokes off the pace through 54 holes.
Alker’s maiden major title comes in just his second major start and marks his fourth victory on the PGA Tour Champions. He finished T3 at the Regions Tradition in his last start where he made his major championship debut.
Over the last year, Alker has been on a remarkable journey. Just nine months ago, the Kiwi didn’t have status on the PGA Tour Champions and after a challenging run of 390 starts on the PGA and Korn Ferry Tours he found success in what he calls his “second career” on the PGA Tour Champions. Sunday, Alker will take home $630,000 for his victory for what is no doubt the biggest payday of his career. Alker has earned more in 19 starts on the PGA Tour Champions than he did in nearly 400 starts on the PGA and Korn Ferry Tours.
“I think right now, I've matured and it's a second wind,” Alker said about his recent success. “Let's stay in shape. Let's keep playing. We have a second career. Let's go for it.”