Alker well placed for rich season-finale win in Phoenix

Steven Alker plays a tee shot on the 11th hole during the third round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club.
Photo: photosport

Steven Alker is in line for a giant season-ending pay day after opening a four-stroke lead in the lucrative final tournament of the US seniors tour.

New Zealander Alker pulled away from the pack on Sunday with a brilliant six-under 65, at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix Arizona.

Alker was at 17-under, four shots clear of German Alex Cejka, who had a 68 while Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee were a further shot back.

Alker began the day tied with American Marco Dawson, who couldn’t keep up on the front nine and fell out of contention on the back nine.

At stake for Alker is a $US1 million ($NZ1.7 million) payoff on Monday.

That would comprise a tournament first prize of $US528,000, among the largest payoffs on the Champions Tour, along with a $US500,000 bonus for finishing second in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup points race.

Even with a big lead, Alker believes the greens are so pure and the weather so perfect that someone can still come from out of the pack.

“Still the mindset is there’s a 63, 62 out there, who knows?” he said.

“So I’ve just got to keep pedal to the metal.”

Steve Alker

Steve Alker
Photo: ©Icon Sportswire

The 52-year-old has done that particularly well on the front nine, playing it in 14-under par over three rounds compared with just three-under on the back nine.

Harrington also has a chance to finish at No. 2 for the season but his chances took a big hit on the back nine with three dropped shots on two holes.

American Steve Stricker long ago clinched the Schwab Cup season prize with his six victories this year, three of them majors. He didn’t play in the postseason and had planned to play in Phoenix until his father was hospitalised in Wisconsin.

Alker is chasing his second win of the 2023 season and the seventh of his career at seniors level.

He finished third in the tournament last year and was runner-up in 2021.

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