Defending champion New Zealand’s Stephen Alker captured an emotional win at the Inspirational Invitational in Woodlands, Texas on Sunday with a 6-under 66 without a bogey.
It was Alker’s first victory since longtime friend and caddy Sam Workman died of liver cancer in February. The craftsman is 55 years old.
Alker went 66-69-66 with a 15-under 201 to beat Steve Stricker by four strokes, giving Workman the credit.
The win came in the suburbs of Houston and was made even more pitch-perfect. Workman is from Texas and was a huge Houston Astros fan. A player on the field this week wore an Astros ribbon on his cap in honor of Workman.
Alker’s son Ben debuted in his father’s bag this week. It was also attended by many Workman family and friends wearing Astros jerseys.
“I just saw the orange sea today and it reminded me of Sam,” Alker said on the Golf Channel broadcast. “I had his son in the bag and nothing more.”
Earlier in the day, Stricker recorded 9 birdies and 1 double bogey at 7 under 65, surged to 11 under 205, and set the number Alker had to hit.
Alker was one under in the 10-hole round, but beat Stricker with three consecutive birdies on holes 11-13. He added a birdie on the par-5 15th and locked his approach shot around 10 feet on the par-4 17th before hitting his sixth and final birdie of the day.
The 2022 Charles Schwab Cup champion almost crossed the green for a birdie on the 18th hole. His ball stopped inches short of the cup and he flicked the club into the air in disbelief.
“The back nine was great for me and it was great to get another one,” Alker said. We had a lot of reasons to try to win, and it worked.”
Scotland’s Colin Montgomery (68) and David Toms (70) tied for third at 8 under par. Matt Gogel hit a long birdie on the 18th for 71 and finished solo fifth at 7-under while Bob Estes (67) and South Africa’s Ernie Els (72) tied for 6-under for 6th.
–Field level media
http://www.newzealandnews.net/news/273803511/steven-alker-wins-insperity-invitational-pays-tribute-to-late-caddie Stephen Alker Wins Insperity Invitational, Honors Late Caddy