Alker wins season finale to take second place in Schwab Cup

golf13 November 2023 03:21| © Reuters

Steven Alker finished his day with nine straight par saves and won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship by one stroke to close out the PGA Tour Champions season on Sunday in Phoenix.

Alker's 2-foot par putt at the par-5 18th had more than $1 million riding on it. By saving par for a one-stroke victory, the New Zealand native won both the $528 000 first prize for the tournament and a $500 000 bonus for taking second place in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup points race.

Steve Stricker won his first Schwab Cup title after winning six tournaments in 2023, including three major championships. He clinched the title after the first leg of the playoffs.

Stricker withdrew from this week's tournament at Phoenix Country Club after his father was admitted to the hospital for a medical emergency.

"I didn't get it done this year," said Alker, who won the Schwab Cup in 2022. "Stricker had an amazing year, he was phenomenal, so we were chasing him all year. But to get second after going first last year, that means a lot just to keep the consistency. And I get a couple of wins, it's nice. The guys are just getting better out here and just pushing harder, so you've just got to try a little bit better every year."

Alker entered Sunday with a four-shot lead and posted a 1-under 70 (two birdies, one bogey) to finish at 18-under 266.

"To beat these guys, it's hard to win out here," Alker said. "To get another one, stuck on six (wins) for a while, but to get another one is great. It means a lot obviously with family and friends here."

Alker missed the green on his third shot at No 18 but his ball avoided a bounce into the adjacent water hazard. He chipped on and sank his par putt to avoid bogeying and dropping into a playoff with Canadian Stephen Ames and South African Ernie Els.

Ames and Els each shot bogey-free 65s to get to 17 under and put pressure on Alker.

"I made it exciting here at 18, but that wasn't the plan, I'll tell ya," Alker said.

Els, who opened the tournament red-hot with a 63, moved from fifth to third in the Schwab Cup race.

"I played pretty solid," Els said. "If I make a putt here and there early on in the second nine, you know, the momentum changes again. But it's fine. I had a good tournament. Just got to just dust up a little bit, get ready for next year."

Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Bernhard Langer of Germany rounded out the top five of the final Schwab Cup standings.