Steve Alker in action today – photo USGA Chris Keane

Steve Alker has overcome yesterday’s slow start to the US Senior Open at the Saucon Valley Country Club in Pennsylvania and finds himself just three shots from the leader Padraig Harrington at the halfway mark of senior golf’s most significant event.

Alker was 3 over par early in his first round yesterday but fought his way back to a round of 1 over 72 and then, despite a double-bogey at his 9th hole today, he added enough birdies for a round of 67 and a share of 4th place.

“Yeah, the putter was working much better today,” said Alker. “I was a little bit scrappy in places, but the putter looked after me today.

“I had some nice iron shots on the front nine and just got some momentum early on, so it was good. Then lost
momentum during the round and then got it back again.

“It was a bit topsy turvy, but the putter, I was pleased with that.

“We had a little more wind today. It was kind of all over the place. I learned that the winds just kind of switch around.  We had wind on the back nine from all over the place, so that was tricky.”

Mark Hensby stays in touch – photo USGA Chris Keane

Mark Hensby was unable to maintain the pace of yesterday’s round of 67 but he remains well placed despite his round of 73 today, the US based Australian, who qualified to play in the event, in a share of 9th place and four from the lead.

Hensby struggled with the greens today after what appeared to him as a significant increase in speed.

“Obviously we played later yesterday and it was wet, but, yeah, I was shocked how fast they were. I just never got
my speed today.

“No, nothing really changed except for the speed of the greens. I mean, they were soft but they were fast. I mean, it felt like two, three feet faster.”

Richard Green is the next best of the Australasians in a share of 13th place and six from the lead, his performance made even more meritorious considering he recorded an early quadruple bogey on day one.

Harrington, a three time major winner in his regular career, produced a bogey free round of the day 65 to lead by one over Steve Stricker.

Harrington was pleasantly surprised at the test the Saucon Valley Country Club’s layout and set-up has provided to date.

“It’s a much stronger test than I expected. This is way, way tougher than our regular Champions Tour events. I knew this was a big advantage to me starting the week, both length-wise and being able to play from the rough if I am in the rough.

“Certainly this is a real strong test. This is a big golf course, well set up. I know it’s gotten a little soft, so the scoring is better because of that. Certainly I’m very impressed with the USGA.”