Steve Alker – file photo Bruce Young
New Zealand’s Steve Alker has continued the remarkable start to his career on the PGA Tour Champions when again finishing inside the top ten in an event on the tour for the over-fifties.
Just over a month ago Alker began his PGA Tour Champions career without status and Monday qualified for the Boeing Classic in Washington.
Since then has reeled off five consecutive tens, each allowing him to play the following event and that will be again be the case as a result of his 5th place at this week’s Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach.
Alker’s final round of 67 improved him from 12th overnight to his share of 5th and the money he earns this week will take his earnings in five on the PGA Tour Champions close to US$400,000 for his 7th place at the Boeing Classic, his 3rd place the following week at the Ally Championship, his 9th place at the Ascension Championship, a 7th place at the Sanford event and this week’s 5th place.
Alker has moved to 59th in the projected standings in the Schwab Cup and while that will not yet earn him full status for next season, he is well on his way to doing so.
If he is to move inside the top 54 by season’s end, he will have access to as many as half the events in 2022 and if he was to finish inside the top 36 he will be eligible to play all events next season.
Even now, he might have the occasional event to play in 2022 but gaining full status without having to tackle the demanding tour qualifying school will be the initial aim.
A game built around fairways and greens has worked well for the just turned 50 year old and even though he struggled to keep pace with the longer hitters on the Korn Ferry Tour in recent seasons, now that he is playing PGA Tour Champions events he is proving more than competitive once again.
“I’ve just been out there grinding with the young guys, and it (The Korn Ferry Tour) really deserves a lot of the credit for keeping my game where it’s at,” Alker told Bob McLellan of the PGA Tour from Pebble Beach this week.
“I’m one of the shorter hitters out there, but on PGA TOUR Champions I’d probably says I’m at least above average, probably in the top 30 off the tee.”
Alker, a four times winner on the Korn Ferry Tour including when his win at the 2009 NZPGA Championship was part of that tour, lives with his family in Arizona and has continued to compete on the Korn Ferry tour since although he did play on the PGA Tour in 2003 after a good year on the then Nationwide Tour in 2002.
West Australian Stephen Leaney finished as the next best of the Australasians this week when he finished in a share of 13th and moved to 44th in the Schwab Cup standings.