Golf: Kiwi Steve Alker enjoys million-dollar payday with defence of Charles Schwab Cup Championship

Kiwi Steven Alker has defended his Charles Schwab Cup Championsip title, despite a nailbiting finish down the back nine at the Phoenix Country Club.

Afterwards, Alker, 52, paid an emotional tribute to former caddie Sam Workman, who lost a long battle with cancer in February.

Entering the fourth day with a four-stroke lead, the Kiwi had to withstand a strong finish from some big-name rivals - and his own inconsistency - to retain the advantage.

Steven Alker en route to his Charles Schwab Cup Championship victory.
Steven Alker en route to his Charles Schwab Cup Championship victory. Photo credit: Getty Images

Canadian Stephen Ames, who won the 2006 Players Championship, and four-time Major winner Ernie Els of South Africa both carded six-under 65 to close within a shot of the lead, putting the pressure on Alker over the closing holes.

On the 18th, he flirted with water with his second shot and had convert and up-and-down opportunity for victory. His third from off the green rolled within a few feef of the hole and Alker completed his task with a pinpoint putt for a one-under 70 on the day, 18-under for the tournament.

After taking out the overall championship crown last year, Alker's win elevated him to second - and a $US500,000 bonus - with this result, unable to catch American Steve Stricker, who bypassed the event to be with his ailing father.

The tournament purse took his earnings for the day to US$1 million (NZ$1.7m).

Since Workman's passing, Troy Martin has been on Alker's bag, but the Kiwi teared up at the tributes for his former righthand man - a huge Houston Astros baseball fan - around the course over the weekend.

"After Sam passed, Troy's been a stud," he croaked. "I'm glad I got a flag for him today - that was huge.

"You see the signs around and people talking. 'Go Sam' and 'Go Astros'... I heard a lot of that over the week.

"He was here somewhere... it was great to get this one."

Alker was at even par, when he drove into a fairway bunker on the ninth hole, but recovered brilliantly for a birdie that proved crucial in the final analysis.

"That was huge," he reflected. "I was just trying to get my swing together, it wasn't quite there today, but that putt was huge and just settled me down.

"I had a great tee shot on 10 and felt good after that."

The result was Alker's seventh victory on the PGA Seniors Tour since 2021 and his second this year, after heading Stricker at the Insperity Invitational in April.

"Another multiple-win season," he said. "I didn't get it done this season - Stricker had an amazing year, phenomenal, and we were chasing him all year.

"Getting second, after going first last year, still means a lot to keep the consistency."

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