New Zealand golfers on fire on Web.com Tour

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 13:30 26/07/2013

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Kiwi golfers Tim Wilkinson and Danny Lee have probably already done enough to earn PGA Tour cards for 2014, according to the Web.com Tour stats gurus.

It appears Steve Alker is intent on joining them.

A few hours after watching Wilkinson fire an eight-under par 63 to temporarily lead the Boise Open today, Alker upstaged his compatriot in stunning fashion at the $US775,000 (NZ$958,000) tournament.

A winner a couple of weeks ago in Utah, Alker's fine patch of form continued as he finished with three successive birdies to sign for a nine-under par round of 62 and jointly hold the lead with American Hunter Haas heading into tomorrow's second round.

Playing the back nine first, the Hamiltonian made the turn in three-under par before catching fire with a front nine 30, including four birdies and an eagle at the par-five second.

Starting the week in 21st place on the moneylist, thanks almost entirely to his win in Utah, Alker would move into fourth place with another win this week and guarantee his place on the lucrative PGA Tour with golf's heavy hitters in 2014.

Wilkinson, eighth in the order of merit before this week, made another excellent start shooting a 63 to claim the early clubhouse lead.

The stats folk on the United States' second-tier tour reckon Wilkinson has already won enough money this year to secure a spot in the top-25 at the season's end, and a place on the PGA Tour next year. But the left-hander made it clear this week that winning a tournament is his goal. Like compatriot Danny Lee, who at No 9 is also projected to move into the big time next year, he has relied on consistency with six top-15 finishes, but both players are without a win.

Finishing No 1 on the money list brings added perks next year, such as exemption from the quarterly reshuffle in priority status, as well as a berth in The Players Championship. To finish No 1, Wilkinson knows he has to win at least one of the last nine tournaments.

He's set himself up nicely at the Hillcrest Country Club in Boise. He made the turn in two under par but scorched home with just 29 strokes required on the back nine.He birdied his final five holes and six of his last seven in a bogey-free round that has set him up for another plum week.

Lee is off the pace after a comparatively sedate two-under 69, which included six birdies but also four bogeys.

Meanwhile, Michael Campbell has made a rare bright start on the European Tour this season, at the Russian Open near Moscow.

The Kiwi has carded five birdies and three bogeys in a two-under par round of 70 to be in a share of 14th place after the first round, playing the Russian Open for the first time. He is just three shots off the lead held by Englishman Simon Dyson, Sweden's Rikard Karlberg and China's Wen-chong Liang.

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Campbell began the year well with two top-20 finishes in the United Arab Emirates but has struggled since with a 74th at the Nordea Masters his best result since January.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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