The Principal Charity Classic is set up for a photo finish.
Steven Alker of New Zealand fired an 8-under-par 64 to get to 13 under and join a four-way tie for the lead after Saturday’s second round at Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa.
Alker is tied with Jerry Kelly (66 Saturday), Brett Quigley (66) and Kirk Triplett (68), while German legend Bernhard Langer (66) is just one stroke behind at 12 under.
Alker is coming off winning his first PGA Tour Champions major title last week at the Senior PGA Championship. The 50-year-old first became eligible for the circuit just 11 months ago and has four victories since November. He has finished in the top three of each of his past five starts, including three wins.
The Charles Schwab Cup money leader birdied four of his first five holes en route to a 5-under 31 on the front nine. An eagle at the par-5 13th helped boost him further and he finished without a bogey on his card.
“Again a fast start … and just kept it rolling from there,” Alker said. “Yesterday I kind of struggled the rest of the front nine. But just got a couple more in there and just kept it going. And yeah, I just got more comfortable out there than yesterday. I just drove it better, had more chances.”
While Alker started fast, Kelly finished strong. The veteran racked up six straight birdies at the 12th through 17th holes.
“Well, it is all Eric (Meller), my caddie,” Kelly said. “He’s like, you’re just really leaking the posture. That’s been bad, and I made some strides this week and I was really in posture yesterday. And he noticed how far out I was on that front side, and it just made it not quite as strong. I hit some decent shots, but they came up short and they wouldn’t turn out. But once I got in the right spot, the swing came right around. And the putter did, too.”
In similar fashion, Quigley made all seven of his birdies on his last 11 holes. Triplett, the first-round leader after posting a 63, had six birdies and two bogeys Saturday.
Langer went bogey-free with six birdies — three on the front nine, three on the back. The 64-year-old once again came close to shooting his age. Should he win on Sunday, he would take home his 44th PGA Tour Champions title and extend his record as the oldest winner in tour history.
Brandt Jobe (67 Saturday) is alone in sixth at 9 under.
–Field Level Media