Lydia Ko, Steven Alker, Ryan Fox Make It Big Year For Kiwis

By Doug Ferguson, AP Golf Writer

It would be a stretch to call 2022 the year of the Kiwi, but not by much.

Steven Alker capped off one of the more remarkable stories on the PGA Tour Champions. He had no status when he turned 50 last year with three months left in the season and still made it to the postseason. And then he carried that momentum into this year by winning the Charles Schwab Cup.

Alker won just over $3.5 million, nearly $1 million more than his career earnings on the PGA Tour, European tour and Korn Ferry Tour combined.

Lydia Ko gave New Zealand another big title when she won the CME Group Tour Championship with its $2 million prize to capture the LPGA Tour player of the year award and win another Vare Trophy for having the lowest scoring average.

Not to be overlooked is Ryan Fox.

He ended last year at No. 213 in the world and was nearly three years removed from his last victory. The Masters remained only a dream.

Eleven months later, the 35-year-old Kiwi was No. 2 in the DP World Tour Rankings behind Rory McIlroy until a pedestrian start in the season finale took him out of the mix to be Europe’s 1.

“Beating Rory is pretty hard to do, but coming into this week with a chance is pretty cool and probably exceeded my expectations for the year,” Fox said at the DP World Tour Championship.

McIlroy was the only player to finish in the top 10 at all four majors, and he finished no worse than fourth in five of his six regular European tour events. Fox played 21 regular European tour events with two wins and four runner-up finishes.

“If you had given me that at the start of the year, I would have jumped at it,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest perk was moving up to No. 27 in the world, which locks up his first trip to the Masters. This was the third time in the last five years Fox has played in three majors. He just never made it to Augusta National.

“That’s one I’ve been wanting for a long time, since before I turned pro,” he said. “I guess a couple of years ago, probably thought I was getting a bit old and it was going to be a little bit too hard. But to get it done this year is amazing.”