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Alker takes share of lead in Senior Players Championship

Steven Alker Steven Alker

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Steven Alker shot a bogey-free 4-under 66 on Friday for a share of the second-round lead in the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship with Joe Durant, Tim Petrovic and Alex Cejka.

A three-time winner this season and the Charles Schwab Cup points leader, Alker had three straight birdies on Nos. 14-16 on his first nine and added another on the par-5 second on Firestone's South Course.

“First of all, it’s nice to have a bogey-free round at Firestone” the 51-year-old New Zealander said. “It’s that type of golf course, you’ve just got to keep going. But kind of everything, drove it in the fairway for the most part today and hit a lot of greens except for the last few. I scrambled nicely the last couple holes.

“Overall, just a solid day. Kind of kept my nose clean and haven’t done too much wrong. A few more putts would be nice, but yeah, at Firestone, just fairways and greens around here.”

Mike Weir (68) of Bright's Grove, Ont., was four shots off the lead and Calgary's Stephen Ames (71) was seven strokes behind.

Alker won the Senior PGA Championship in late May in Michigan for his first senior major victory.

“Just getting comfortable in this company,” Alker said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. Just like learning to play my game. It’s been hard to watch these guys but just stay in my skin and play my game.”

The leaders were at 6-under 134.

Durant birdied three of his last four holes in a 65. Petrovic bogeyed the 18th for a 66. Cejka, the first-round leader after a 64, had an even-par 70.

Defending champion Steve Stricker had a bogey-free 65 to join Ernie Els (68), Woody Austin (66) and David Toms (69) at 5 under.

Stricker scrambled to save par on his final hole.

“That was big,” Stricker said. “I hate to make a bogey, the only bogey of the day on the last hole, so I was grinding to make sure I got that one in there. I didn’t want to make a bogey today, so it was a good way to finish, good save.”

Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) was 4 under with Bob Estes (68), Jerry Kelly (69) and Ken Duke (66).