Perfect timing for Alker to make Open start

Last updated 14:46 05/07/2012
Steve Alker
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/The Press
STEVE ALKER: "I enjoy links golf. Conditions-wise it can be horrible sometime. I enjoy that type of golf. Keeping the ball on the ground a bit more in windy conditions is fun."

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Steve Alker only played the British Open qualifying tournament because he was in the UK for a family wedding. Now, he's off to the main event.

Alker will become the first Kiwi to play at the Open Championship since 2009, after winning the qualifying tournament in West Lancashire.

But it was a lucky break that he was even teeing up in the event in the first place.

"We had to leave the country [United States] to sort out our visas and we were here [in the UK] for my wife's father who was getting married again so we were killing two birds with one stone," said the 40-year-old.

"It worked out well date-wise and obviously with the chance to play the Open I will stay on now. I'll miss a tournament on the Nationwide Tour but that is not really a problem."

Alker, who is plying his trade on the web.com Tour, formerly the Nationwide Tour,  shot rounds of 69 and 68 at West Lancashire to win the event by two shots and secure his place in the third major championship of his career.

His previous two majors were at the British Open in 1998 and 2007, where he missed the cut on both occasions. He said it was a mixture of emotions when he qualified again.

"Well I was obviously feeling relief and its very pleasing. I went there with the goal of trying to qualify and there were only three spots and it all went well, went to plan and I am very excited for a couple of weeks' time."

The 2009 NZ PGA champion has had a mixed season on the web.com Tour, where his highest finish is a tie for fourth at the Chile Classic, but he feels he has turned a corner recently in his game.

"It has been coming around. I worked with my coach a couple of weeks working on a few things and that have really helped to be honest.

"Obviously I putted nicely and stayed in the groove all day. Playing 36 holes in a day is tough scoring wise. You don't really know what is going on, I just tried to knuckle down and play my game and make some birdies."

While Alker hasn't played at Lytham before, he said the course suited his style of golf.

"I enjoy links golf. Conditions wise it can be horrible sometime. I enjoy that type of golf. Keeping the ball on the ground a bit more in windy conditions is fun. I haven't seen Lytham before so I am interested to see what it's like."

The British Open runs from July 15-22.

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- Fairfax Media

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