Three Things You Need to Know from the First Round
The first round of the 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship is in the books and there are two tied at the top.
Harbor Shores once again tested the best in the world but heading into Friday there are 14 golfers within just three shots of the lead.
Here are three things to know from Thursday on the shores of Lake Michigan.
ALKER CONTINUING INCREDIBLE 2022
What more can be said about Steven Alker? The New Zealander turned 50 last July and has been on a tear on PGA Tour Champions ever since.
It should come as no surprise that he co-leads through 18 holes at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, either. When asked what aspect of his game is the strongest right now, he was quick to answer.
“Pretty much everything,” he said.
Alker shot a 7-under 64 Thursday. His lone bogey came on the par-3 17th, but he notched five birdies and an eagle – on his first hole of the day – to leave him in a tie with Bob Estes.
Alker has finished inside the top-3 five times already this season, with two victories. In fact, dating back to last July when Alker made his debut on PGA Tour Champions, his worst finish is a tie for 20th.
Alker’s last four weeks on PGA Tour Champions have seen him go 1-T2-1-T3.
Winning the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, however, would be the biggest win of his career.
CLAXTON LOOKING TO MAKE HISTORY
The beauty of the PGA’s Championships is that PGA Professionals – the life blood of this game – have an opportunity to tee it up alongside some of the best in the world.
Paul Claxton, a PGA Life Member from Georgia, is making the absolute most of his appearance at Harbor Shores through 18 holes.
The 54-year-old shared a piece of the lead for most of Thursday afternoon until a late birdie by Bob Estes bumped him into a tie for third with 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir. The pair is one shot back.
A PGA Professional has won this Championship before – Tom Wargo in 1993 – but we’re coming up on three decades since that achievement.
He said he has been “so busy” at work of late – with more people playing more golf than ever – that he hasn’t been able to practice as much as he would have liked leading into the week. But he shook off the rust quickly on Thursday.
“Just going to enjoy today and not worry about the rest of the way,” he said. “I feel like it was a good day for me and I’m not going to read more into it than that.”
Claxton also won the 2021 Senior PGA Professional Championship.
LEADERBOARD WITH INTERNATIONAL FLARE
For a decade and a half, the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship saw only American winners. But seven of the last 10 champions have been from countries outside the U.S. and the leaderboard through 18 holes makes it seem like that trend may continue come Sunday.
Eight golfers who are inside the top-10 on the leaderboard represent a plethora of global golf homes, led by Alker of New Zealand. Weir of Canada is tied for second, while Robert Karlsson of Sweden is T5.
The defending champion Alex Cejka (of Germany) is tied for 17th and four back of the co-leaders. He said he had a “good vibe” Thursday as the defending champion.
“My goal was to be under par and I’m not far from the lead,” said Cejka. “So far, it’s looking good.”