Clarke finishes down the field as Alker gets it done in Boca Raton

Adam McKendry
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Clarke finishes down the field as Alker gets it done in Boca Raton

Steven Alker (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Darren Clarke’s title defence at the TimberTech Championship was a disappointing one as he finished 45th at the penultimate event in Boca Raton, Florida.

The former Open champion would have been hoping he could have at least mounted a spirited defence of his maiden PGA Tour Champions title, but instead a mixture of poor fortune and poor golf ended those hopes rather quickly.

Adverse weather on Friday saw the postponement of the first round to Saturday morning – played back-to-back with the second round – and rounds of 79 and 74 left him nine-over heading into the final day.

That meant a final round 75 left him 12-over for the tournament, which was a massive 29 shots back of winner Steven Alker at the Old Course at Broken Sound.

Two bogeys and a double had Clarke behind the eight-ball by the time he made the turn in his final round and, although he birdied the 13th and 15th on the way back to the clubhouse, a closing bogey at the 17th ended his week on a sour note.

While his chances of winning the Charles Schwab Cup were already over prior to last week’s event in Florida, the 53-year-old will now head to this week’s Charles Schwab Cup Championship eager to at least finish the season strongly.

Meanwhile, Alker shot a 68 in his final round to hold off the challenges of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jim Furyk and lift his 12th professional title but first on the PGA Tour Champions.

The Kiwi has only played in nine senior Tour events since turning 50 in July but he has taken to the circuit like a duck to water, finishing inside the top-10 on eight occasions but this undoubtedly the pick of the bunch.

Five birdies and one bogey was enough to get him to 17-under and over the line ahead of the pressing Jimenez, who shot a 66 to set the clubhouse target at 15-under, and Charles Schwab Cup chasing Furyk, who had held a share of the overnight lead.

“I guess it’s just been building, I’ve been having chances and you have a bunch of top-10s and you get in the thick of it and just try to get a W. Not that the top-10s aren’t any good, it’s just that you get that win, and just glad I hung on today,” beamed Alker.

“Jim kind of let me in, and didn’t make a couple of putts at the end there, but just kind of hung tough and got it done.”

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