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Alker blows chance on PGA Tour Champions

Steven Alker golf
Steven Alker dropped two shots on the final two holes at The Galleri Classic. PHOTO: PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS

Kiwi golfer Steven Alker has missed a chance for another tournament victory on the PGA Tour Champions.

Alker finished bogey-bogey in the third and final round of The Galleri Classic in Rancho Mirage, California, on Sunday (Monday NZ Time) to end tied for second, one stroke behind winner South African Retief Goosen.

Tied with Goosen coming down the par-five 18th, both found the water with their second shots. After drops, Alker was only able to make bogey, while Goosen got up-and-down, rolling in an eight-foot par putt for victory.

Earlier in the round, Alker birdied three of the first four holes to jump into contention. Another birdie at the par-five ninth saw him make the turn in the lead at 14-under.

Seven straight pars still had him ahead by one, before three-putting on the par-three 17th green and finding more misfortune on the closing hole. Alker had made just one bogey in the first 52 holes at Mission Hill Country Club's Dinah Shore Tournament Course.

Alker, 52, the Tour’s player of the year two seasons ago, was trying to win for the ninth time in only his 58th career start on the Champions Tour.

Already this season he had won the season-opener in Hawaii, and he was on the verge of winning for the third time in his last six starts, dating to November’s Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Arizona.

Alker was a runner-up for the second consecutive year at The Galleri Classic, shooting a final-round two-under 70. He tied for second along with Alex Cejka and Ricardo Gonzalez.

Alker, who leads the Charles Schwab Cup standings, said afterward he did not make many mistakes tee to green, but certainly could have converted a few more of his birdie looks to make a difference. As for going for it at 18? He thought he hit the shot.

“I had a super lie, could almost hit driver off the lie in the semi-rough there, that's how good the lie was,” Alker said. “If I hit rescue, then I flush it and it's gone through the green. So just got a little high on the face, a little grassy. It got over. I kind of flew the front, but just got maybe a little unlucky.”

On the LPGA Tour, Lydia Ko slid to a share of 13th after the final round of the Ford Championship in Arizona on Sunday (Monday NZT).

Inside the top-10 going into the weekend, Ko could only manage similar two-under 70s over the weekend, finishing at 15-under, five strokes back of the winner, American Nelly Korda.

Ko had gone 52 holes at the Seville Golf and Country Club before her first bogey of the week at the par-three 17th. She closed out her round with a birdie, her third in the last six holes, to get to 13-under.

The 26-year-old's final round started with a bogey, before back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth holes, followed by 12 straight pars and a birdie at the closing hole.

Ko remains second in the LPGA's Race to CME Globe standings, behind Korda, finishing outside the top-10 for the first time in five tournaments in 2024.

Meanwhile, Ryan Fox finished in a tie for 78th at the PGA Tour's Houston Open, two weeks out from his second Masters appearances.

The 36-year-old closed out his final round on Sunday (Monday NZT) at the Memorial Park Golf Course with back-to-back birdies, finishing with a one-over 71 to end the week at five-over, 17 shots behind the winner, German Stephan Jaeger.

Fox just made the cut at one-over after the second round, before carding a three-over 73 in the third round on Saturday (Sunday NZT), which included four birdie, five bogeys and a double-bogey. His final round featured four birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey.

The world No 49 has made just three of seven cuts on the PGA Tour in 2024, with a best finish of T35 in early March.


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