Alker ends some droughts at New Zealand PGA|
Christchurch, New Zealand (Sports Network) - Steve Alker fired his second
consecutive five-under 67 on Sunday to come from behind and win the New
Zealand PGA Championship.
Alker won the title by two strokes at 15-under 273 at Clearwater Country Club.
Alker earned his second Nationwide Tour title on Sunday, but his first since
the 2002 Louisiana Open. He also became the first Kiwi to win this
championship since Frank Nobilo in 1987.
"It's pretty special to win here," said Alker, who was the touring pro for the
Clearwater Resort for three years. "It's great to come back here and see all
the members and staff. It's really been a fun week for me."
Fellow New Zealanders Josh Geary (67) and David Smail (68) shared second place
at 13-under 275. Michael Sim (67), Henrik Bjornstad (67) and Ryan Hietala (69)
tied for fourth at minus-12.
Alker trailed by a single stroke and birdied the par-five second hole. He
collected his next birdie at the next par five, the fifth, but the tournament
remained very close.
Alker took control of the tournament around the turn. He birdied the ninth,
10th and 11th holes and those three birdies in a row gave the Kiwi and two-
shot cushion over the field.
A birdie by Alker at the 15th put him three ahead with three to play. He did
his best to make things interesting with a bogey from a bunker at 16, but
Alker parred out to preserve the victory.
"It's nice that my game held up," said Alker, who pocketed $108,000 for the
win. "I made a couple of putts at the right time. It's been a bit of a dry
spell for me. Obviously this comes at a really good time for me."
Overnight leader Steve Friesen only managed an even-par 72 on Sunday. That
dropped him into a tie for seventh place with, among others, 18-year-old
reigning U.S. Amateur Champion Danny Lee.
The teenager made history last month when he became the youngest winner ever
in European Tour history. On Sunday, Lee shot a two-under 70 and joined
Friesen, Josh Teater (67), Gavin Coles (68) and Jason Norris (69) at 11-under
03/08 00:49:37 ET