Steve Alker wins epic web.com 11-hole playoff

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 11:48 09/06/2014
Steve Alker
IAIN MACGREGOR/ Fairfax NZ
FLYING THE FLAG: Hamilton's Steve Alker has rocketed 209 places up the world rankings and is NZ's lone competitor at the US Open.

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Professional Kiwi golfer Steven Alker has won an epic 11-hole sudden-death playoff.

The 42-year-old from Hamilton won the Web.com Tour Cleveland Open this morning (NZT) in the record-setting sudden-death playoff against South African Dawie van der Walt.

Alker and van der Walt astonishingly both parred the first 10 playoff holes before Alker made a birdie three on the par-four 18th. Van der Walt was unable to match him. It was the sixth time Alker had played the hole today.

It was the first time 11-holes had been needed in a sudden-death playoff to find a winner in a major professional tour event.

In 1949 at America's Motor City Open in Detroit, Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum played 11 holes in a sudden-death playoff, but the pair mutually agreed to call it a draw after they could not be separated.

In 1972 at the Corpus Christi Civitan Open in Texas on the LPGA Tour, Jo Ann Prentice needed 10 sudden-death playoffs to get the better of Kathy Whitworth and Sandra Palmer.

The record on the European Tour was at the Duth Open in 1989 when nine holes were needed for Jose Maria Olazabal to beat Ronan Rafferty.

The longest playoff that was not sudden death was won at the 1931 US Open when Billy Burke beat George Von Elm after 72 holes. In this tournament the tie at the end of regulation forced an 18-hole playoff. The pair tied the first three playoff rounds, but Burke got ahead in the fourth round to claim victory.

At the 2008 US Open, the rules had changed and after one playoff round, Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate entered sudden-death hole-by-hole. Woods won on the first sudden-death hole.

ALKER ON THE MOVE

Steve Alker pocketed US$108,000 (NZ$127,000) for the Cleveland Open win today and took a big leap up the Web.com standings.

In his previous seven starts on the second tier tour this year, Alker has failed to make the top 25 and sat a lowly 102nd on the money list.

With the win, Alker leaped to 12th on the Web.com's Order of Merit Race. The top 25 at year's end would qualify for the PGA Tour.

The Kiwi No 7 and world No 510 raced up the field in the final two days at the tournament with a pair of six-under 65s to get to 14-under for the event.

At the 17th tee in regulation, it was Alker's to lose as he was eight-under for the round, 16-under for the tournament and three clear of second-placed Korean Si Woo Kim.

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But a pair of bogeys pushed him back and van der Walt went birdie-birdie to take all the momentum into the playoff.

It was Alker's 10th professional win and fourth on the Web.com tour. Three of his wins on the tour have now come in playoffs.

- Stuff

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