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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Michael Beaven, Akron Beacon Journal

Can Steven Alker add another senior major? He’s off to a fast start at the Senior Players at Firestone

New Zealander Steven Alker is enjoying playing golf at Firestone Country Club for the first time.

Alker spoke Friday about the first time he visited Akron and walked the famed South Course — as a spectator in the late 1990s.

“Funny enough, a buddy of mine, Phil Tataurangi, who used to play the [PGA] Tour, I think he played here a couple times in the World event,” Alker said Friday after posting a 4-under 66 in the second round of the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship.

“So, followed him around a couple days and I knew the layout and I’ve seen the golf course, but in terms of playing it, no. I’m loving it. You’ve just got to golf your ball.”

Alker was playing the Canadian Tour at the time and said he drove down to Akron and spent a couple of days walking the grounds of Firestone.

Alker, 50, left Firestone on Friday in a tie for first with Tim Petrovic, Alex Cejka and Joe Durant at 6-under through the first two days of the Bridgestone Senior Players.

“It’s nice to have a bogey-free round at Firestone,” Alker said. “It’s that type of golf course, you’ve just got to keep going. But kind of everything, drove it in the fairway for the most part and hit a lot of greens except for the last few. I scrambled nicely the last couple holes. Overall, just a solid day. Kind of kept my nose clean and haven’t done too much wrong. A few more putts would be nice, but yeah, at Firestone, just fairways and greens around here.”

More from Firestone Country Club: ‘Whole trip formed me’: Risky journey to flee Communism gave golfer Alex Cejka his fight

Alker has won four PGA Tour Champions victories — the TimberTech Championship during the 2020-21 season, and the Rapiscan Systems Classic, the Insperity Invitational the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in 2022.

He also has seven international wins — the Fiji Open in 1995, the Tahiti Open and the Queensland Open (Australia) in 1996, the South Australian Open (Australia) in 1997 and the McDonald’s PEI Challenge (Canada), the Bayer Championship (Canada) and the PEI Challenge (Canada) in 2000.

Alker is also enjoying playing in a field of Hall of Fame golfers on the Champions Tour.

“Just getting comfortable in this company, I think that’s the biggest thing,” Alker said. “Just like learning to play my game. It’s been hard to watch these guys but just stay in my skin and play my game. And then learning the courses, these are all new. I like playing new courses, it kind of gets me up and going. So just everything, to travel to different places, just the whole package. It’s been fun.

“… I hadn’t played with a lot of these guys when I was on Tour or Europe or anything. So [Steve] Stricker, Vijay [Singh], Ernie [Els] and all those guys, I hadn’t played with them before. Just getting comfortable playing with them. And they’re super guys. Maybe get a little bit older and soften up, loosen up a little bit, I don’t know, but they’re very approachable and it’s a lot of fun.”

Michael Beaven can be reached at Follow Beaven on Twitter at

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