Padraig Harrington ran away with a seven-stroke victory at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Sunday in Phoenix, but that still wasn’t enough to wrest the season-long Schwab Cup title from Steven Alker of New Zealand.
Alker, once a golfing journeyman who never won on the PGA Tour, came away with the biggest prize on the PGA Tour Champions Sunday.
Even though Alker finished eight shots behind Ireland’s Harrington at the playoff finale, he had enough of a points advantage that his third-place finish was still plenty to claim the Schwab Cup.
“Honestly, just having friends and family and the support here this week has been amazing,” the 51-year-old said. “It will come out tomorrow, it will come out tomorrow sometime, but amazing. Playing with Padraig today, it was kind of difficult because do I chase him, do I protect? I just tried to play my game as good as I could, but he played amazing and (I’m) just glad to be champion.”
Harrington took a five-shot lead over Alker after three rounds at Phoenix Country Club by shooting a 9-under 62 on Saturday. He posted his second straight bogey-free round, a 6-under 65, on Sunday to get to 27-under 257 and tie Jack Nicklaus’ PGA Tour Champions record for the lowest 72-hole score relative to par.
“Kind of glad I didn’t beat him,” Harrington said of Nicklaus’ record.
Harrington, 51, had a chance to win the Schwab Cup but needed Alker to finish lower in the tournament standings.
The three-time major winner played with Alker throughout the week and called him “a truly deserved winner” of the Cup.
“It’s not like he’s just come flash in the pan at the end of the year and won a couple events and all of a sudden won the Schwab Cup,” Harrington said. “The pressure’s been on him right from the start of the year all the way through. He had a lead and several of us were catching him all year. It’s very impressive that he’s not just held on, but he’s won in style.”
Alker, who shot his second consecutive 68 Sunday and finished at 19-under 265, has won five tournaments on the 50-and-older circuit since joining in the summer of 2021. Before his senior success, Alker had won on the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Canadian Tour and the Web.com Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour).
He said it took “a lot of hard yards” to reach this destination.
“It’s just, you know, I’ve played everywhere,” Alker said. “I’ve played everywhere and I think that kind of helped today in a way, just playing the PGA Tour and Australasia and Asia and Korn Ferry. Yeah, I’ve played everywhere. It’s been an amazing journey and just to be here and to have this opportunity has been amazing.”
Germany’s Alex Cejka shot a final-round 65 to get to second place at 20 under.
–Field Level Media