Planet Golf — 09 November 2022 by GW staff and news services
Alker aims for the Cup

PHOENIX – The stage is set for intense competition at the PGA TOUR Champions season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club, Nov. 10-13.  The top 33 players of the 2022 PGA TOUR Champions season will compete in this 26th and final event, vying for the 33rd annual tournament title and the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race.

The Charles Schwab Cup winner will take home a cool $1 million bonus, and the top five finishes also receive bonus payouts ranging from $500,000 to $100,000. The tournament itself features a $2,500,000 purse (winner’s share $440,000), so those with no chance at the Cup can still leave Phoenix and end the season on a very happy financial note.

Last year’s tournament winner Phil Mickelson will be notably absent, as the PGA TOUR ban of LIV golfers extends to PGA TOUR Champions.  Instead, Steven Alker, who finished runner-up as a rookie last year, is positioned to possibly take the tournament and the Cup. 

The lanky New Zealander has transformed from journeyman to champion in just a year.  The 51-year old began his career on PGA TOUR Champions in 2021, Monday qualifying into the Boeing Classic, where he finished T7 – the first of six-consecutive top-10 finishes. Since then, he has been on a roll, winning five times – including four times in 2022 and the Senior PGA Championship.  He has led the Charles Schwab Cup points standings for 18 events, and currently holds a 589,980 point lead over his nearest competitor, PGA TOUR Champions rookie Padraig Harrington.

Alker turned pro in 1995, and played mostly on the PGA Tour of Australasia, the European Tour, and Korn Ferry Tour.  He chalked up seven international wins, and four Korn Ferry Tour wins, but had very limited success on the PGA TOUR.

And then something clicked.

Alker attributes much of his success to attitude adjustment.

“You know what, obviously I’ve matured, but I think the biggest thing is just sort of managing myself, and my time.  Right now, for me, a week off, it’s a week off from golf.  So rather than going to the range and hitting balls and beating myself up…if I could look back I’d go “let’s do some work on the body,” just something else rather than beating myself up at the range.”

He added, “And I try to just enjoy everything more, where I’m at, what’s going on around me more. Be present. Play without fear – on and off the course. Play with freedom.”

And he’s absolutely loving the camaraderie and competitiveness of the Champions tour, noting “It’s been a blast to be honest. I didn’t know a lot of top players coming out, but they’re really approachable and the guys have been great and been very supportive.  That means a lot.”

After finishing second last year, he’s happy to be back at Phoenix Country Club, where he feels comfortable. It’s almost a home game for Alker, who has resided in Fountain Hills (east of Scottsdale) for over a decade.

“It seems like it fits my eye.  I played well last year, so hope to do the same this year. And to be in this position and actually have the opportunity to win, it’s pretty exciting.”

“And if I can come in here with a million point lead, I’ll do okay,” he said with a laugh.

Well, it’s not a million, and a host of others are within striking distance should Alker falter in the 72-hole event.

Padraig Harrington earned three victories, along with four runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes this season, and could catch Alker in the season finale. Others in the field with at least three wins  are Jerry Kelly (third in the points standings) and Miguel Angel Jiménez (fifth in the points standings).

Defending Charles Schwab Cup winner Bernhard Langer, who captured his record sixth Cup following the 2020-21 super season, sits in fourth spot and also plans to be in the mix.  Langer, who was victorious at the recent TimberTech Championship, now has 44 career victories on PGA TOUR Champions, and is one win shy of tying Hale Irwin for the most career victories in PGA TOUR Champions history. Langer shows no signs of slowing down, but in spite of his five Schwab Cup victories, he has never won this tournament.

Other notable names in the field include Jim Furyk, who narrowly missed out on winning the Charles Schwab Cup last season, along with World Golf Hall of Famer Retief Goosen and Darren Clarke, winner of the 2022 Senior Open presented by Rolex.

Fan Experience!

The move six years ago from scenic, yet remote, Desert Mountain Club to Phoenix Country Club revitalized and reinvented the event.  The convenient Phoenix location and walkability of PCC has drawn more and more spectators each year, and enhanced fan experiences to accommodate them.

According to Tournament Director Tiffany Nelson, this year will be even more fan-friendly, with comfort enhancements, an expanded autograph zone, free admission opportunities, and complimentary parking and shuttle service.

Fan enhancements for 2022 include:

Front Row Seating – Enjoy some of the best seats at the tournament free of charge. Adirondack chairs will be stationed on holes 8 and 12, and are available on a first come, first served basis.

Fan Village – Overlooking the 15th green, the Fan Village includes concessions, a Tito’s Stillhouse bar location, a first aid site, plus interactive displays by vendors and sponsors.

Autograph Zone – An expanded autograph zone will be located just off the 18th green allowing kids and kids-at-heart to get pictures and signatures from their favorite PGA TOUR Champions legends.

Expanded Bleachers on 18 – Watch the final putt drop from the newly expanded greenside bleachers courtesy of San Tan Ford. The bleachers are general admission seating and are available on a first come, first served basis.

Free Parking – Free general parking is available at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, with free shuttle service to and from Phoenix Country Club

Salt River Materials Group – Official Military and Patriots’ Outpost Sponsor: All Active Duty, Military Reserve, Military Retirees, Military Veterans and National Guard Members receive up to two (2) complimentary grounds admission tickets courtesy of Salt River Materials Group. Tickets also provide access to the Patriots’ Outpost presented by Salt River Materials Group, a tented hospitality chalet located near the 13th green.

Tickets for the 33rd annual Charles Schwab Cup Championship are now on sale at Grounds tickets for tournament rounds (Thursday-Sunday) are $30 per day, and a weekly ticket is $80. The tournament is also offering an elevated fan experience for $80 per day at The Oasis on 17, an open-air venue located adjacent to the 15th tee and 17th green with premium food and beverage available for purchase. The Oasis venue is home of the $1 birdie beers.


Twitter: @ChampionsTour, @SchwabCupFinale

Instagram: @pgatourchampions, @schwabcupfinale

Facebook: PGA TOUR Champions, Charles Schwab Cup Championship

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