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Alker fires back into contention at q-school

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 13:22 16/11/2012

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New Zealand golfer Steve Alker has got himself right back in contention after carding what was easily the best round of the Kiwis in action in PGA Tour qualifying school action across the United States today.

Alker was in deep strife after an opening round three-over par 75 but he bounced back superbly today, a five-under 67 resulting in a massive leap up the leaderboard in his second stage q-school event at Bear Creek Golf Club in California.

Alker has moved up to a share of 23rd after two rounds, with the top 19 players and ties in the 75-strong field to progress to the final stage event later this month, when 156 players will battle it out for the 25 remaining PGA Tour cards for 2013.

The Arizona-based Hamiltonian, who had a disappointing year on the second-tier Web.com Tour despite a great week at the British Open in July, when he finished 19th as a qualifier, made the turn in one-under after starting on the 10th tee but caught fire on his back nine with five birdies in six holes before a dropped shot at his penultimate hole, the par-three eighth.

New Zealand No 1 Danny Lee couldn't match his first round form at the same venue but is still in good shape at the halfway mark.

Lee backed up his opening seven-under 65 with a one-over 73 today, three bogeys on his back nine halting momentum. He drops to a share of seventh at six-under, still three shots better than where he needs to be to progress.

Lee has been forced to go through two stages of q-school to retain his full playing status on the PGA Tour next year, having finished a disappointing 2012 rookie season in 167th position on the money list.

Tim Wilkinson is also inside the cutline in his event, at the Hombre Golf Club in Florida, a steady round of one-under par 70 moving him to five-under for the tournament and leaving him in a share of 13th place after two of four rounds.

The top 19 players and ties from that field will progress to the final stage.

The news is not so good for Josh Geary, however, after a four-over par 76 essentially scuppered his chances of progression at TPC Craig Ranch in Texas.

Geary was right in the mix at four-under through two rounds but he's dropped back to a share of 50th and will probably need to shoot something like a 63 in tomorrow's final round to have a chance of sneaking inside the top 20 who will progress.

There are six second stage tournaments each with field sizes of about 78.

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