Ko makes solid start; Alker continues good form

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 11:37 08/08/2014
Lydia Ko
Getty
IN FORM: Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko is off to a solid start at the LPGA Classic in Michigan.

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Both Lydia Ko and Steven Alker are neatly placed after their first rounds on the latest stops across the professional US golf tours.

It's also been a memorable day for Kiwi amateur James Beale, who has claimed the Canadian men's amateur championship.

On the LPGA Tour, world number two Ko has carded a two-under par 69 to be in touch of the early lead and in a tie for 10th at the LPGA Classic.

Ko was out early this morning, with a bogey on the par four 13th the only blemish on her card. After two weeks off, all departments of Ko's game were solid enough today, with 29 putts, 13 greens in regulation and only three fairways missed.

In the week leading into a major championship, German Sandra Gal has set the clubhouse lead on six-under after a 65 which included a blistering run of six birdies through holes two to eight.

Gal is one stroke clear of Korea's Inbee Park, with Australian Katherine Kirk on four-under and a further 17 players, including Ko, on two and three-under.

Kiwi teenager Ko won the last LPGA tournament she played in, the Marathon Classic, which took her career earnings past $1million in her debut season on tour - and next week she will play in the LPGA Championship, where a win would see her become the youngest major champion in history.

Meanwhile on the Web.Com Tour, feeder circuit to the primary men's PGA Tour, the form of Steven Alker continues.

Hamilton professional Alker, who is set for some level of exemption on the PGA Tour next year, is provisionally tied fifth at the Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield, Missouri.

With weather suspending the first round, Alker is five-under through 11 holes, two strokes behind clubhouse leader, American Martin Piller.

Finally in North America, Kiwi Beale has claimed the 2014 Canadian men's amateur championship title after rolling in a long birdie putt on the third playoff hole at Elmhurst Golf and Country Club.

The New Zealand golfer finished 72 holes tied atop the leaderboard alongside Canada's Taylor Pendrith and American Jonathan Garrick at six-under par.

The trio battled it out over three holes before Beale's 22-foot birdie putt found the bottom of the cup on the par-4 18th hole.

The win means Beale will get an invite to play in next season's Canadian Open - a fully-fledged PGA Tour event.

"Honestly I don't know if it's good or bad but the thought went through my mind just as I was standing over it that this is for the win," Bale said.

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"As I looked at the hole I just kind of stroked it and tapped it down there and it just tracked towards the hole and I couldn't believe it."

The 21-year-old carded a final-round one-under-par 69 and drained a clutch par-putt on his 72nd hole to earn his spot in the three-man hole-by-hole playoff for the national championship title.

"It's surreal it's definitely something I've dreamed about, I didn't think it would happen so soon. Just added benefits [Canadian Open], it's amazing," he said.

Beale is the third Kiwi golfer to win the event and the first in 13 years.

- Stuff

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