John Daly withdraws, Steven Alker leads after first round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

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It didn’t take long for one of the premier names on the PGA Tour Champions to withdraw from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, as John Daly called it quits after playing his first eight holes 1 over. No reason was given, but have to figure fans at The Country Club of Virginia are sad to see him go.

Steven Alker, on the other hand, had quite the day. He teed off on 10 and got right to work with back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13. Alker would make the turn with a blemish-free 5-under 31. He then birdied four of the first five holes on his back nine for a day total of 9-under 63.

If you’ve never heard of Alker, you’re not alone. The New Zealander spent most of his career on PGA Tour Australasia and Korn Ferry Tour (Web.com at the time). He does have a notable finish in a major championship, with a T-19 at the 2012 Open, an event won by Ernie Els.

“It’s a new chapter for me coming from Korn Ferry and playing with those young guys; big, strong, hitting it forever,” Alker said after his round on Friday. “So in places I was competitive out there, but I’m kind of maybe a little more competitive out here. But as I said, my game’s just coming around at the right time.”

“Out here I find with the three days, you’ve got to get a hot start, otherwise you’re kind of on the back foot of it,” he went on to say. “Only two to go. It’s kind of like playing the weekend really now, just keep going at it.”

Last week Alker finished in a tie for 16th at the SAS Championship, but before that, posted six straight top 10 finishes on the Champions Tour.

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Bernhard Langer, who currently leads the Charles Schwab Cup, played well on Friday keeping the bogeys off the card. After a pedestrian 2-under 34 on the front, Langer made four birdies coming home for a 6-under 66.

“It’s just been more solid play. I haven’t had a lot of Ws, but I’ve put myself in contention a number of times, lots of top-10s, top-5s, just knocking on the door,” Langer said Wednesday when asked about his lead going into the playoffs. “Very consistent play for the last, well, it’s been two years really because we had the super season going.”

He’ll enter the second round T-3, three shots back of Alker.

Notable names in the field and their position: Jim Furyk (3 under, T-17), Ernie Els (2 under, T-26), and Phil Mickelson (1 under, T-31).

Shot of the day