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Steven Alker builds four-shot lead with 65 at Charles Schwab Cup Championship

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Steven Alker builds four-shot lead with 65 at Charles Schwab Cup Championship

    Written by Associated Press

    PHOENIX — Steven Alker pulled away from the pack Saturday with a 6-under 65, finishing with a birdie that extended his lead to four shots going into the final round of the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

    Alker began the day tied with Marco Dawson, who couldn’t keep up on the front nine and fell out of contention on the back nine at Phoenix Country Club.

    Padraig Harrington was trying to keep pace until he took a double bogey on the 14th hole, and then had to scramble for bogey on the par-5 closing hole.

    Alker was at 17-under 196, four shots ahead of Alex Cejka, who had a 68. Harrington and Thongchai Jaidee, who each had a 69, were five behind.

    Steven Alker’s Round 3 highlights from Charles Schwab Cup

    Even with a big lead, Alker believes the greens are so pure and the weather so perfect that someone can still come from out of the pack.

    “Still the mindset is there’s a 63, 62 out there, who knows?” he said. “So I’ve just got to keep pedal to the metal.”

    He’s done that particularly well on the front nine, playing it in 14-under par over three rounds compared with just 3 under on the back nine.

    At stake for Alker is a $1 million payoff on Sunday — first prize is $528,000, among the largest payoffs on the Champions Tour, along with a $500,000 bonus for finishing second in the Charles Schwab Cup points race.

    Harrington also has a chance to finish at No. 2, but his chances took a big hit on the back nine with three dropped shots on two holes.

    Steven Alker, 67-64-65 – 196 (-17)

    Charles Schwab Cup standings – Start: 4th / Projected: 2nd

    • This is his low 54-hole score on PGA TOUR Champions (196) (Previous low: 197 (2022 Charles Schwab Cup Championship).
    • This is his sixth time leading/co-leading entering the final round on PGA TOUR Champions (Is 3-for-5 converting those into victories)
    • This is his first 54-hole lead in a 72-hole tournament on PGA TOUR Champions
    • The 52-year-old seeks his seventh win on PGA TOUR Champions (53rd start)
    • Seeks his second win of the 2023 season (20th start) (Previous win: Insperity Invitational (April 28-30))
    • Looks to become the sixth multi-time winner this season on PGA TOUR Champions, joining Steve Stricker (6), Stephen Ames (4), David Toms (2), Bernhard Langer (2) and Padraig Harrington (2)
    • Will play in the last group of the final round for the fourth time this season (Is 1-for-3 converting those into victories)
    • Making his third start at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, he has finished 2nd (2021) and 3rd (2022)

    Steven Alker’s interview after Round 3 of Charles Schwab

    Other Notes

    • Alex Cejka, who finished runner-up at this event last year, sits in solo second at 13-under after shooting 68.. The 52-year-old seeks his fourth win on PGA TOUR Champions (72nd start). Seeks his second win of the 2023 season (27th start).
    • Defending champion Padraig Harrington, who entered the week ranked No. 3 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, sits T3 at 12-under. The 52-year-old seeks his seventh win on PGA TOUR Champions (34th start). Seeks his third win of the 2023 season (13th start). Looks to become the fourth back-to-back winner in Charles Schwab Cup Championship history, joining Mike Hill (1990-91), Jim Thorpe (2006-07) and John Cook (2009-10).
    • Thongchai Jaidee sits T3 at 12-under after shooting 69. Celebrated his 54th birthday on Wednesday and seeks his third win on PGA TOUR Champions (58th start). Seeks his second win of the 2023 season (25th start).
    • 2018 champion Vijay Singh carded 66 for the second consecutive day and sits T5 at 11-under, along with fellow World Golf Hall of Fame member Ernie Els, K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang and Charles Schwab No. 7 Stephen Ames.
    • Charles Schwab No. 2 Bernhard Langer, a six-time winner of the Charles Schwab Cup, shot his age for the 13th time on PGA TOUR Champions with 5-under 66. The 66-year-old sits in 10th at 10-under.
    • 36-hole co-leader Marco Dawson played his final 11 holes in 4-over en route to 74. He sits T13 at 8-under.
    • Dicky Pride posted the low round of the day with bogey-free 64 and sits T19 at 6-under.
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