Golf: Alker wins in Utah

By Daniel Richardson

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

Kiwi golfer Steven Alker has registered his first tournament win since 2009 after defeating Australian Ashley Hall in a playoff to claim the Utah Championship on the Web.com Tour today.

Alker and Hall both had to replay the par-three 18th at the Willow Creek Country Club in Sandy, Utah after finishing the tournament at 22-under.

Hall then put his tee shot in the water and Alker had a comfortable two-putt to claim the win as Hall could only bogey the hole.

The victory, good for US$112,500 (NZD$144,375), was Alker's first since he won the New Zealand PGA Championship at Clearwater four years ago and has resurrected his campaign on the Web.com Tour.

Coming in to this week's tournament, Alker was 149th on the money list having only banked $US12,183 (NZD$15,635) from seven starts in 2013.

This win moved the Hamilton pro to 20th on the order of merit, which would see him earn direct entry to next year's PGA Tour if he can finish the year inside the top 25.

The 41-year-old made a fast start to his fourth round as he birdied the opening hole before making an eagle on the third to be three under par and in a share of the lead after three holes.

He added another birdie on the fifth hole which saw him claim the outright lead from American Chad Collins who bogeyed the par three in a two-shot swing.

Alker made four straight pars to complete the front nine and made the turn in four-under-par on a tournament total of 21-under.

On the back nine he made a string of pars before a birdie at the par-four 14th brought him back to a share of the lead with four holes to play.

Alker continued his run of pars down the stretch and had a long birdie putt to claim the title on the 18th but couldn't find the bottom of the cup, which sent Alker and Hall to a playoff.

Collins had to finish his third round earlier in the day after inclement weather meant 21 players were left with holes to play in their third round today.

Collins held the lead at the start of the fourth round but finished with a two-under 69 to claim a share of third place.

Alker shot in to contention with a brilliant 10-under 61 yesterday as his bogey-free third round saw him climb 30 spots on the leaderboard on moving day. Prior to that he had opened with rounds of 71 and 64.

US pro Will Wilcox, who eventually finished in a tie for third at 21-under, made an impressive charge today as he fired a 12-under 59 in a round that included 10 birdies and an eagle.

Wilcox's round marked only the fourth time a player had recorded a 59 on the Web.com Tour.

Manawatu pro Tim Wilkinson continued his solid showing on Tour this year as he carded a final round six-under 65 to move to 18-under for the tournament, good for a share of 12th place. The left-hander had only one bogey throughout the tournament

Wilkinson came in to the tournament in seventh spot on the order of merit and this weekend's efforts should solidify his spot in the top 25 players on the money list.

Fellow Kiwi Danny Lee missed the cut.

- APNZ

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