New Zealand golfer Steven Alker has been beaten on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff at the Boise Open in Idaho, western United States.
It was his second sudden-death playoff for the year on the Web.Com Tour after he won the Cleveland Open in June against South African Dawie van der Walt. The Cleveland playoff equalled a PGA record after stretching to 11 holes.
But it was a different story today for Alker who lost to American Steve Wheatcroft on the first playoff hole in hot 39 degrees Celsius conditions. Alker parred the playoff hole, but Wheatcroft carved out a winning birdie to claim the title.
Had Alker won he would have been set up to play on the lucrative PGA Tour next year as the top 25 Web.Com players would graduate to the top tier tour.
PGA Tour prizemoney was about 10 times that of the second-tier tour.
Alker was still hopeful of graduating, with his prizemoney for second today, about US$60,000 (NZ$69,000), lifting him to ninth on the moneylist after starting the tournament ranked 19th. There were nine tournaments still to play.
Earlier, it was a tense finish to the final round in Boise with 54-hole leader Alker holding a two-shot lead over Steve Wheatcroft, with five holes to play in the US$800,000 (NZ$919,000) tournament at Hillcrest Country Club.
A bogey on the 15th cost Alker the lead, when Wheatcroft birdied the same hole, but the Kiwi fought back with consecutive birdies. Both players parred the 18th, leaving them tied at 24-under and forcing the playoff.
Victory would have given Alker a US$144,000 (NZ$166,000) payday, and almost certainly secured his place on the top flight PGA Tour next season.
The 11-hole sudden-death playoff in Cleveland had equalled a PGA Tour record, set in 1949 at the Motor City Open when Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum agreed to be co-winners when darkness set in after 11 extra holes.
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