“I haven’t had two years of consistently good golf, I think, ever,” Alker said in a Woodlands Country Club weight room. “It’s a second chance, it’s a second career, and those don’t come along very often.”
Perseverance, he said, was probably more to thank than stubbornness. His status as one of the more youthful players in the senior fields has helped, but his mindful approach, joined with a refined short game and exceptional wedge play, has also proved to be particularly well-suited to a circuit that Irwin calls “a temperament tour.”
“I think this tour is more about precision, knowing where your ball is going, scoring, just getting the job done,” said Alker, whose mind has increasingly cleared as a result of his financial windfalls and aging children.
With his patchwork of methods, he defended his Insperity Invitational title days later. This year and last, he beat Steve Stricker, a past American captain at the Ryder Cup, by four strokes.
It is not unheard-of for the senior circuit in the United States to yield athletic reinvention or renewal. Much of Bernhard Langer’s pre-50 success played out in Europe, but at 65, he is a victory away from seizing Irwin’s record. And Gil Morgan claimed 25 senior tour titles despite never having won a major.
But Langer finished atop the Masters Tournament leaderboard twice, and Morgan had eight top-10 finishes in majors, including two third-place P.G.A. Championship showings. Alker? He has never appeared in a Masters or, until now, a P.G.A. Championship, though he once managed a tie for 19th at a British Open.