Rubric: Steven Alker collects the biggest golf mulligan | Sports news

Author: DOUG FERGUSON, writer of AP Golf

Steven Alker knows all about poor times.

He started at home in New Zealand in 1989 and over the next three decades played 556 times on six world-class tournaments. Only three seasons took place on the PGA Tour. He spent two whole years in Europe.

His most financial year was in 2014, when he earned $ 261,901 on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour. Alker has been here for so long that he has played a development circuit under five names, starting with the Nike Tour.

Its the most consistent golf? That would be on a Canadian tour in 2000, when he finished in the top 12 in seven of the eight tournaments.

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Alker won the Louisiana Open in 2002 (it was the Tour at the time) and reached a career no. 191 in the world rankings.

“Lots of hard work and hard yards for a long time,” Alker said Monday night from his home in Arizona, trying to absorb the amazing success he had been waiting for.

“I was just trying to stay in the game.”

And now the 50-year-old Kiwi is at the top of the PGA Tour Champions.

His latest venture was a return from a two-hour rain in Houston and four birdies and an eagle during the six-hole section of the back nine, which left Steve Stricker too far behind to catch up with him at the Insperity Invitational.

Stricker almost made a remarkable comeback, as he did not play for six months due to a mysterious illness that hospitalized him and caused him to lose 25 pounds.

This is more of a new beginning for Alker.

Houston was his second victory this year – he also has two playoff losses – and took the lead in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. Drop the end of last year and Alker has three victories and three second places in his last nine tournaments.

If the PGA Tour champions are the biggest mulligan in golf, no one cashes like Alker.

“I’m enjoying my second career,” he said with a laugh.

In just 17 starts since celebrating 50 last summer, Alker has made $ 2,202,168. Now take note that he earned $ 2,318,866 for 390 starts on the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour.

Life was hard. And now life is very good.

Alker still has no answers to this cruel turn, except that he has never had so much fun and never lost his love for the game.

“It’s a combination of everything,” he said. “A whole change of atmosphere, a different tour, a new chapter in my career. My game came at the right time. “

The timing was really everything.

Alker did well enough on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019 – tightly in the top 75 – to maintain full status the following year, which turned into a two-year season because no one lost their status during a four-month outage caused by a coronavirus pandemic.

This allowed him to continue playing – stay in the game – for up to 50 years.

“That was very important. I was able to schedule and continue the game,” he said. “I started working hard on my body, I got into golf form. My plan was to qualify on Monday and then graduate from the Champions Tour And the rest is history. “

Last August, he overcame Monday’s qualifying for his Boeing Classic debut, playing 67 on the final day and finishing seventh. The top 10 got him into the next week and finished third. Four more top 10 followed, and Alker played his way into the post-season and eventually won to secure a full card.

And he really didn’t stop.

The last three decades are now disappearing from memory. If there was a nervous moment, it was a decision to move back to the United States after two years in Europe. A year after winning the New Zealand PGA – co-approved Tour – Alker didn’t miss a cut in all 21 tournaments he played in 2010. It took another four years to get his PGA Tour card.

“It’s been four years, has it been a good decision?” I was just trying to stay there, “he said.

And now it’s all paying off.

There is still a lot to do about this second career. Because Alker only played 86 times on the PGA Tour and had low status, he never played with some big ones in the game. For the past month, he has been alongside Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Stricker.

“I was a little nervous,” he said with a laugh, forgetting for a moment that he was beating them.

In addition to the ball in the water in the playoffs two weeks ago in Dallas, Alker can very easily sit on three victories in a row. He’s leaving this week as his son prepares for graduation. Next week is his first senior major in Alabama.

In front of him are pastures that have never looked greener.

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