9 Mar 2009

Great day for New Zealand golf

5:50 am on 9 March 2009

New Zealand golf had a day to cherish at Clearwater yesterday when professionals Steve Alker, David Smail and Josh Geary completed a Kiwi trifecta in the New Zealand PGA Championship.

Seasoned Hamilton professional Steve Alker broke the drought for New Zealand golfers at the Christchurch course with a stunning two-shot victory in the co-sanctioned Nationwide and Australasian Tour event.

The 37-year-old Alker racked up his ninth win since turning professional in 1995, but it was his first significant victory in New Zealand either as an amateur and or professional and he rated it ``pretty special¹¹.

Smail and Geary were 2 shots back in a tie for second, while outstanding amateur Danny Lee birdied the last two holes to finish tied for seventh.

No Kiwi had won at Clearwater since the first tournament in 2002 and Alker became the first New Zealander to win his country¹s PGA Championship since Frank Nobilo in 1987. The tournament was not played from 1988 to 2003.

The win, as well as giving Alker a cheque for 200 thousand dollars , also gave him a two-year exemption on the Nationwide and Australasian Tours. Alker, who quit the United States circuit at the end of 2006 and was resigned to playing the secondary Challenge Tour in Europe this year, will not focus solely on the Nationwide Tour.

He and his wife, Tanya, had kept their house of seven years in Scottsdale, Arizona, and he will commute between Hamilton and Arizona. Alker admitted he had forgotten it was Tanya¹s birthday yesterday when making a brief call home, but on hearing the news from Clearwater all was forgiven.