29 Jun 2016

Alker heading to Royal Troon

3:08 pm on 29 June 2016

New Zealand golfer Steven Alker has qualified for the third major of the year - the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon in Scotland.

Steven Alker

Steven Alker Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Needing to finish inside the top three at a 36-hole qualifying event in Kent in the UK, Alker finished in a tie for second.

The 44-year old from Hamilton carded rounds of 68 and 71 to finish three under, three shots behind Englishman Matthew Southgate.

"I'm chuffed, it's going to be my fourth Open and it's pretty exciting. I've taken time off from the Web.com Tour in America to come over and qualify because I love links golf.

"Now I'll stay over and play more links golf and then head to Troon - I haven't been there since the Scottish Amateur Stroke Play about 25 years ago," said Alker.

In 2012 at Royal Lytham and St Annes where Ernie Eels lifted the Claret Jug, Alker finished a very credible tied 19th having missed the cut in his previous attempts in 1998 and 2007.

"I had a good finish at Lytham last time I played in 2012 but I like all the courses on the rota, though Carnoustie is probably my favourite. But that back nine today was about the toughest I've ever played. I putted really solidly and that got me through."

This will be his sixth Major championship with two US Open's to his name which included Merian in 2013 finishing in a tie for 45th and a missed cut in 2014.

Alker and compatriot Danny Lee are the only New Zealanders to qualify for next month's major.

Fellow New Zealander Ryan Fox retired after the first round of his qualifying event to miss out on playing a second consecutive Open Championship.