Age hasn’t tired of new golfing wonder Steven Alker

OPINION: Until August, Waikato golfer Steven Alker was on hold as a journeyman. That was before he won golf gold.

Journeyman is a dismissive term for a professional who, since 1995, has oscillated between numerous tours and won 13 tournaments.

Alker golfs to the bank on the PGA Tour Champions and only needs to play three rounds a week to do so. He can no longer sit comfortably on his wallet as it has ballooned to $1.25 million in just nine weeks.

Bob Charles in the 80s and 90s won 25 times on what was then the Seniors Tour and enjoyed more than his six PGA Tour victories.

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While Alker is a slim and fit 50-year-old, many of his opponents on the circuit are former superstars in their 60s.

However, when Alker won in Florida on Monday, he avoided two other youngsters, Jim Furyk, 51, and Ernie Els, 52, and pocketed $429,000, which is a good coin for three days of work on a luxury course.

This week, he’s one of 36 players in the $3.6 million Tour Championship near his home of Phoenix, Arizona, and he just has to show up to pocket another sack full of loot.

Strangely, Lydia Ko, by winning her tournament in Saudi Arabia, only collected $183,000 for her victory. The surprise here is that when men win in this part of the world, they often win a million or more, but Saudis are hardly known for their generosity towards women.

The total purse of $1.4 million was one of the richest on the European Women’s Tour. We should also assume that top women like Ko, who broke their schedule in America to go to King Abdullah Economic City, received money for their appearance.

The tournament was supposedly aimed at developing the game for Saudi women.

Sky Sports

Emotional Lydia Ko talks about the death of her grandmother.

The hoes monopolize the ball

The All Blacks hookers have scored 14 tries this season, mostly on mauls, which is an indictment of how rugby is done.

Dane Coles scored seven goals in four games and was named man of the match in the absolute mess against Italy last weekend. My best player was Australian Azzurri winger Monty Ioane who beat players every time he saw the ball.

An indication of the All Blacks’ transitional phase is that 21-year-old Tupou Vaai, who is a walking penalty, and 20-year-old Josh Lord were the youngest locking pair in AB history.

The game will go down as one of the All Blacks’ worst performances. Everyone seemed asleep, couldn’t pass or catch trying to play that key, unloading style while initially ignoring setting up a base.

Matteo Minozzi battles for the ball with Dane Coles during the match between Italy and the All Blacks at the Olimpico Stadium on November 6.

Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Matteo Minozzi battles for the ball with Dane Coles during the match between Italy and the All Blacks at the Olimpico Stadium on November 6.

Maybe they have too much downtime, limited to hotels thanks to Covid and with a week to kill between games. Older tours had mid-week stays where first-timers and fringe test men could get blasted.

At that time they were taking 30 players, not today’s 40, give or take a few paternity flights home. And then this week they brought in Aaron Smith as ‘injury cover’ when Manawatū needed him most!

The All Blacks had to charter a Boeing 737 to fly them from Rome to Dublin with their 380 bags which were moved around by a chain of players. It’s too much.

Flattened forward ferns

The Black Ferns have just 11 months to change their world if they are to defend their Rugby World Cup title in Auckland and Whangarei next year.

At the moment they appear to have the backs, but not the forwards, who were monstrous by England’s highly professional Red Roses in both Tests at Exeter and Northampton.

While the Ferns had gone 26 months without international competition, that only partly explains the huge combined point differential of 99-27. England looked fit, had size and speed and wore their socks off at full mast.

When the Fougères were last in Europe, their attackers were also pumped by France.

They brought a lot of little-known players to this series where experience counted, and nine women made their debuts in the first event alone.

England's Abby Dow sails past Kendra Cocksedge in her side's 56-15 win over the Black Ferns on Monday morning.

David Rogers/Getty Images

England’s Abby Dow sails past Kendra Cocksedge in her side’s 56-15 win over the Black Ferns on Monday morning.

Forward play in the Farah Palmer Cup is too often sluggish, but next year’s Women’s Super Rugby should help.

It hasn’t been since 2011 that Manawatū has been without a New Zealand player, although third-string hooker Georgia Ponsonby was at Feilding High School before moving to Canterbury.

England had former Manawatū prostitute Amy Cokayne scoring three tries on mauls at Northampton. She played for Feilding High for five years and her 2012 Manawatū School intermediate javelin record still stands.

His father Ian was a Royal Air Force Squadron Leader who was stationed at Ōhakea. Upon their return to England, Amy also joined the RAF and is now full time with England Rugby, the only fully professional women’s team in the world.

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