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Golf Monthly
Golf Monthly
Mike Hall

Steven Alker Takes One-Shot Lead Into Third Round Of Senior Open

Steven Alker during the 2023 Kaulig Companies Championship in Ohio

Steven Alker leads the Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl in Wales heading into the third round.

The New Zealander began the day four behind overnight leader Miguel Angel Jiminez, but while the Spaniard faltered Alker took advantage with a three-under 68 that included four birdies and just one bogey.

Following the round, which leaves Alker on four-under, one ahead of German Alex Cejka, he admitted it had been a satisfying round in challenging conditions. 

He said: “Yeah, it was. Had two days plodding away, taking my chances when I could on the odd par 5 and odd par 4. Different wind today. Switched around a little bit from a couple different directions. It was actually fun. It was enjoyable. I actually love playing links golf and kind of relishing it to be honest.”

Considering Alker’s self-professed love of links golf and his record in senior Majors, there’s plenty to concern the chasing pack. The 51-year-old has six top-10 finishes in only eight senior Majors, including a win in the 2022 Senior PGA Championship. He has also amassed six PGA Tour Champions wins in less than two years.

Alker attempted to explain the secret of that phenomenal late-career success. He said: “Well, the game just gets easier when you turn 50, doesn't it? No, it's a whole mix of things. But you know, fitness and just working hard on my game. Kind of building up for turning 50."

As well as the top two on the leaderboard, another player in great form heading into the third round is 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie. The Scot explained it would have been even better with more luck on the greens. He said: “I just can't get the ball in the hole. You just lost count of how many times you leave the ball six inches short right in the jaws.”

Despite that frustration, Lawrie is just three shots back overnight.

For some other big-name players, it was a more disappointing affair. While 2022 champion Darren Clarke made the cut – just – at five-over following a second round of 74, there was disappointment for the home crowd as 2021 champion Stephen Dodd missed out after he followed an opening-round 75 with a 73 to leave him six-over.

Dodd’s compatriot, 1991 Masters champion Ian Woosnam, also missed the cut following a disappointing 79 to leave him stranded on 12-over, while Spanish legendJose Maria Olazabal fared even worse. The two-time Masters champion finished on 15-over despite his second round of 77 being three better than he managed a day earlier.  

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