PHOENIX – Steven Alker has played golf all over the world on any tour.
In the year Starting at home in New Zealand in 1989, he could pursue the dream of playing professional golf anywhere on the PGA Tour, Europe, Asia, Canada, the minor league circuit.
Alker’s service path peaked at the PGA Tour Championships, allowing the late Mulligan to transform from journeyman to champion.
At the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Sunday, Alker shot a one-under 68 to finish third behind record-setting Padraig Harrington to take the longest Schwab title of the season.
“I kind of played every position that I thought helped me today,” Alker said. “It’s been an amazing journey and just being here is amazing.”
Harrington had to win and Alker finish outside the top five to take the Charles Schwab trophy. The 51-year-old Irishman shot a 65 at the Phoenix Country Club in windy conditions to escape the field and take care of the victory.
In the year At the 2012 Schwab Cup Championship, he finished 27-of-257 to break Tom Lehmann’s 72-hole PGA Tour Champions record of 258. He tied Jack Nicklaus’ record of 27 at the 1990 Cowleigh Companies Championship.
“It was hard to play with Padraig because I chased him? I waited?” Alker said. “I tried to play my game as well as I could. He played amazing and he deserves to be the champion.”
Alker trailed Harrington by five shots going into the final round, but the players behind him were all concerned about the Schwab Cup.
It got tight on the back nine.
Alex Sejaka made an early move with an eagle-birdie to move ahead of Alker on the front nine.
Alker had the first time of the tournament when he had to punch out after missing a tee shot on the par-4 12th. He added another on the par-3 13th hole, 17 under.
That put Lee Janzen just behind Alker, Miguel Angel Jimenez two behind and Stephen Ames just out of reach at 14.
Alker gave up a cushion with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 14th and added another on the short par-4 16th. The 51-year-old Kiwi left a birdie on 18 to finish on 19 under and claim the Schwab Trophy in his second season on the 50-and-over tour.
“The pressure was on him from the beginning of the year,” Harrington said. He had a leader and many of us have been holding him all year. It’s amazing that he didn’t just get caught, but he won in style. “
Sejaka shot a 65 and finished 20 under. Janzen (66), Jimenez (66) and Ames (67) tied for fourth at 16.
The PGA Tour Championships gave Alker another opportunity in a career that has taken him around the world, including three seasons on the PGA Tour and two seasons in Europe. His best year was 2014, when he earned $261,901 on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour, and he reached his highest world ranking of No. 191 in 2002.
Alker began his PGA Tour Champions career as a Monday qualifier at the Boeing Classic in August 2021, with a top-10 finish the following week. He followed that up with four top 10s to keep playing, advance to the postseason and finally win to capture the full card.
The confidence of the five-time winner has snowballed this season, earning more than $3.3 million.
In the Schwab Cup tournament, Alker arrived in the desert with a more than 600,000 point lead over Harrington and played flawless golf through the first three days. Only Harrington made the final round, shooting a 9-under 62 in the third round.
Harrington continued to pour on birdies, carding a 3-under 33 on the front nine, adding another on No. 12 and rolling in a 40-foot birdie from the par on No. 15.
Harrington hit a tee shot to the left of the par-5 18th and, after a dribble, hit the buzzer to 12 feet. He missed the chance and opportunity to break Nicholas’ record.
“It’s nice to hold the record with Jack Nicklaus,” Harrington said. “I’m glad I didn’t beat him.”
Alker had no chance of catching Harrington, but he didn’t need to. He continued to play his consistent game and ended up with the big trophy.