Alker (69) takes advantage of rare opportunity


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Early Monday morning Steven Alker was preparing for the 18-hole crapshoot known as “open qualifying” when he got the call.

Woody Austin had just withdrawn from this week’s Wells Fargo Championship and his spot went to Alker, who has spent this season splitting time between the PGA Tour and Tour with mixed results.

Alker, who made the most of the opportunity with an opening 69 for a spot inside the top 10 on Thursday, said getting the phone call was a nice change.

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“It doesn’t happen very often, to be honest,” he said. “In Houston I was second alternate this year and didn’t get in so this is a nice change.”

Alker earned his 2014-15 Tour card via his play on the Tour last year, but he had been limited to just six starts in 2015 in the big leagues with just one made cut in that stretch.

Still, the New Zealander said his play has been improving in recent weeks and that it was a boost to be able to properly prepare for the Quail Hollow stop.

“I kind of felt the game coming along the last month or so,” he said. “It had been kind of building. It was nice to get in and not have to do the Monday [qualifier]. Obviously it’s good for the energy levels and get some practice in on this golf course. It’s a strong course and you have to have your game sharp.”