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Steven Alker emotional after successfully defending Insperity Invitational

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Steven Alker emotional after successfully defending Insperity Invitational

    An emotional Steven Alker successfully defended his title at the PGA TOUR Champions Insperity Invitational outside Houston on Sunday, once again dominating the field.

    The New Zealand native, who was tied for the lead after round one and led by three after the second, closed with his third consecutive round in the 60s for at 15-under total and a four-shot victory over Steve Stricker. No one else came within seven shots.

    More importantly to Alker, he won in memory of his former caddie, Sam Workman, a Texas native who died of cancer in February at age 55. With Alker’s son, Ben, on his bag for the first time and several of Workman’s family and friends in attendance at The Woodlands Country Club, Alker fired a bogey-free 66 and won by four over Stricker for the second consecutive year.

    After tapping in on 18, Alker pointed to the sky to acknowledge his friend and then toward the crowd that had come to support him.

    Steven Alker throws a dart to set up birdie at Insperity Invitational

    “Obviously you see the emotion at 18 there,” said Alker, who won for the first time in 2023 and moved up to third in the Schwab Cup standings. “But I saw a sea of orange today (many of Workman’s family and friends wore Astros jerseys), and it just reminded me of Sam. I had my son on the bag. It doesn't get any better than that.”

    Alker, 51, became the first player since Bernhard Langer (2007-08) to repeat at the Insperity, though Langer did it at different venues. Both of Alker’s came at The Woodlands, both after shooting 5-under 31 on the back nine.

    “As I said, this nine obviously has been great to me,” said Alker, who notched his sixth PGA TOUR Champions victory. “Just the whole week has been amazing, the support from everybody, and especially the orange brigade out there. Yeah, I couldn't ask for more. It's been fantastic.”

    Alker, the defending Schwab Cup champion, positioned himself for the victory on Saturday, when he was the only player in the field to shoot under 70. His 3-under 69 in difficult conditions gave him a three-shot cushion that he maintained most of the day.

    Stricker’s second-place finish allowed him to slide ahead of David Toms into the top spot in the Schwab Cup race. The Wisconsin native was happy to play well and equally happy for Alker under the circumstances.

    “I played with him the first round. He played steady, putted it well, shot 6-under that first round,” Stricker said of Alker. “Then obviously yesterday was just a survival test weather-wise.

    “But you know, it's meant to be for him here really. His caddie passing a few months ago already, big Houston guy, and he's got a lot of -- I saw some Houston Astro Workman jerseys walking around the course today, saw some at breakfast this morning. It's good that he's going to win here. It's kind of destiny, and it's a feel-good story.”

    Toms tied for third with Colin Montgomerie at 8 under.

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