Steven Alker hopes to add Aotearoa silverware to his growing cabinet next year with the in-form Kiwi golfer named as the main contender for next year’s New Zealand Open at Millbrook Resort.
Alker, who won his first PGA Champions Tour [the Senior PGA Championship] Major in May confirmed he would return to Queenstown for the 102nd New Zealand Open for the first time since 2019, and will look to build on his incredible performances in 2022.
With his PGA Championship win in May, Alker has already won three tournaments and NZ$4.8 million in prize money in 2022, but he told 1News a home win would be invaluable experience.
“I’ve gotten closer a few times, but I’m getting older now so I don’t have a lot of chances,” Alker said.
“There are great names on the trophy there; Peter Thompson and Cal Na, Young Baker Finch, and I see Michael Campbell, David Smail, a good buddy of mine.
“There are some cool names out there and it would be great to add my name to that kind of business.”
Alker, 51, added that just coming home will also be a big moment for him after being on the road for nearly four years.
“It’s been a tough two years and I always wanted to come back for the New Zealand Open,” Alker said.
“It’s one of my favorite events and it’s always on my calendar. And obviously with my success and everything, it opens up my calendar a bit.
“I just want to make the trip and go home too because in March, April, it will be four years for me that I am not at home.”
Organizers confirmed earlier this year that the New Zealand Open will finally return to the Coronet and Remarkable courses at Millbrook Resort in Queenstown next year after the Covid-19 pandemic forced back-to-back cancellations of the ‘event.
Tournament director Michael Glading said 2023 would be a chance for golf in New Zealand to begin its return to normal.
“We are very fortunate to have the unwavering support of the Ishii family and Millbrook Resort, and we look forward to showing their incredible facilities to New Zealand and the rest of the world,” Glading said in a statement.
“Both courses are true championship quality and the views from the newly completed Coronet course are breathtaking.
One star of the international game who is unlikely to feature however is fellow in-form Kiwi Ryan Fox due to clashes with top-tier US PGA Tour events which he now qualifies to play in, noted the chairman of the John Hart Tournament.
“We were delighted to see Ryan win the Alfred Dunhill Tournament at St Andrews and we fully understand that Ryan needs to pursue his PGA Tour dream,” said Hart.
The 102nd New Zealand Open will take place from March 2-5.