(Photo credit: Tina MacIntyre-Yee /Rochester Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORK)
Steven Alker of New Zealand rose to the top of the leaderboard at The Senior Open Championship amid tougher conditions Friday, carrying a one-shot lead into the weekend at Bridgend, Wales.
Alker celebrated his 52nd birthday by shooting a 3-under-par 68 to get to 4-under 138 through two rounds at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. He’s one of just seven players under par as of Friday – and the only player to shoot under par both days.
Alker is one stroke better than Germany’s Alex Cejka, who remained in second place with an even-par 71. Scotland’s Greig Hutcheon posted a 68 to climb to third place at 2 under.
Paul Lawrie of Scotland (71 Friday), Anders Hansen of Denmark (69), Vijay Singh of Fiji (72) and Englishman Paul Broadhurst (71) are tied at 1 under.
Alker burst onto the PGA Tour Champions scene in late 2021 and has won six tournaments on the 50-and-older circuit, including one major, the 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. He’s playing Royal Porthcawl for the first time this week.
“I think the big thing is off the tee,” Alker said. “Obviously if you’re in the bunkers you’re penalized, so a lot of different clubs off the tee. I think I’ve hit everything in my bag this week, and that’s the sign of a good golf course, when you’re hitting every club in your bag. Getting in the fairways is the key, and then trying to take the flag if it’s available.”
He made two birdies on the front nine, bounced back from his only bogey with a birdie at No. 11 and birdied the par-5 finishing hole to turn in one of the best scores of the day.
“It was actually fun, it was enjoyable,” Alker said. “I love playing links golf and I’m kind of relishing it, to be honest.”
Cejka could have been lower if not for a triple-bogey 7 at No. 9, effectively erasing the three birdies he had on the front nine. Cejka is seeking his third senior major title.
Hutcheon, who plays on Europe’s Legends Tour, had a hot start with four birdies through six holes before adding three bogeys and two birdies the rest of the way. This is his first Senior Open appearance.
Germany’s Bernhard Langer (69), Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie (70) and first-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain (76) are part of a tie for eighth place at even par.
–Field Level Media
http://www.newzealandnews.net/news/273914256/steven-alker-moves-in-front-at-senior-open-championship Steven Alker moves in front at Senior Open Championship