Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Golf: Alker aims for consistency as he eyes US Open

Steven Alker. Photo / Simon Baker
Steven Alker. Photo / Simon Baker

Kiwi golfer Steven Alker wants to channel his knack of qualifying for major tournaments into a consistent run on tour.

The 41-year-old will line up in next week's US Open at the Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania after rounds of 69 and 68 at the Big Canyon Country Club and Newport Beach Country Club respectively earlier this week to finish second in the Sectional Qualifying Event.

It marks the second time in as many years the Arizona-based Alker has gained entry for a major after he earned a start in the British Open last July via a qualifying tournament and went on to finish in a tie for 19th as he banked $102,000.

Between times have been lean, though.

Alker has limited status in the US and has picked up only five starts on the Web.com Tour in 2013, where he has made two cuts with his best finish being a tie for 17th at the Brasil Classic in April.

That lack of opportunity has left him 135th on the Web.com Tour money list and a long way off the top 25 who earn automatic entry to the PGA Tour next year.

Alker did claim a share of eighth at the NZ PGA Championship at The Hills at Arrowtown in March with a final-round 66 moving him up the leaderboard, but there has been little to crow about until now.

Alker's wife, Tanya, will be on the bag in Pennsylvania next week and he hoped his start at the US Open would be the catalyst for some consistency on the course.

"It would be nice. Obviously this year I've kind of played everywhere," he said. "I've been right through New Zealand and then some local stuff here in Phoenix and then started my Web.com Tour down in Brazil, which was the first event down there so I've kind of been all over the place and haven't had a solid schedule."

A decent finish next week would boost Alker's ranking within the Web.com Tour and would give him more starts for the rest of the year, although Monday qualifiers may be a road he has to travel.

"Obviously it's my first US Open. I've played a couple of British Opens but I'll just be excited to see how they set up the course and you know everybody talks about it on TV how tough it is and how demanding it is. So I'm just looking forward to the challenge."

This year's course may be to Alker's liking with shorter yardage of 6996 across 18 holes, compared to previous years where the length has got the better of some players.

Alker will be the second Kiwi in the field in Pennsylvania next week with Michael Campbell guaranteed a start thanks to his 10-year exemption following his famous win in 2005.


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