Steven Alker Shares Lead at Harbor Shores, Continuing Dream Run
Steven Alker’s improbable run to the top of the PGA Tour Champions continued on Thursday as he fired an opening round of 64 to hold a share of the first-round lead in his debut at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
Alker, who less than nine months ago didn’t have status on the PGA Tour Champions, has amassed more than $2 million in earnings, three victories, and top 10s in 15 of 18 total starts. The fairytale beginning to what Alker has called his “second career” continued in the opening round of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, where he put himself atop the leaderboard on day one at Harbor Shores alongside Bob Estes at seven-under par.
“It still hasn't sunk in,” said Alker, who is making just his second major start. “If you had said eight, nine months ago that I would be here, I'd probably tell you you were lying.”
Thursday, Alker started the championship with a flurry when he holed out for eagle at the par 5 10th hole, his first hole of the day, to begin his round with the same sort of excitement he’s brought to the PGA Tour Champions. With 240 yards to the pin, he hit his approach to 25 feet and drained the long, downhill putt for eagle.
“It was a tricky putt to start the day. It was straight downhill and kind of went in the middle, so that was nice,” Alker said about his putt at the 10th hole. “The course was there for the taking just kind of had to go at it and be positive.”
The forecast called for inclement conditions but Alker was able to take advantage of what turned out to be benign weather with relatively little wind. He added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14, both par 4s, to make an early charge up the leaderboard. He recorded his lone bogey of the day at the par 3 17th hole to go out in 32. Alker played flawless golf on the inward stretch, carding a bogey free, 4-under 32 on the back nine for a round of 64.
“It's a second-shot golf course and there's room off the tee,” Alker said about his first visit to Harbor Shores. “You just have to be on the right portion of the green and be aggressive.”
What Alker has been able to achieve over the last nine months on the PGA Tour Champions is staggering. In 18 starts, he’s earned more $2,330,168, which is $11,302 more than he earned in 390 combined starts on the PGA and Korn Ferry Tours. For the first two rounds, Alker is grouped with World Golf Hall of Fame members Bernhard Langer and Ernie Els in what is a not-so-subtle reminder to the newcomer of how far he’s come in the game in such a short period of time.
“Once I get going, I'm fine. But try not to watch what Bernhard is doing or Ernie is doing,” Alker said about his playing partners while admitting to having first-tee jitters. “Still not comfortable totally playing with these guys.”
Less than nine months ago, Alker couldn’t have dreamed of playing full time on the PGA Tour Champions, let alone lead a major championship. While Alker’s run to the top of the game may seem improbable, he’s shown time and again over the last nine months that he’s got the game to contend week in and week out. And as he showed on Thursday, he may also have the game to win major championships.
“I'm just happy to be out here playing, have a chance to play this competitive golf at 50, and it's a second career for me,” Alker said. “It's a second opportunity, and you know, make most of it.”