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Kirk’s Long Road Back Ends With Finish That Feels Like A Win

HONOLULU: The scene was acquainted on the PGA Tour, besides that it sometimes includes the winner. The Sony Open wasn’t even over and Chris Kirk had motive to have fun.

He was some 80 ft away to the correct of the 18th inexperienced, the worst angle for a pin tucked to the correct, however simply sufficient room for an affordable likelihood. Kirk’s pitch was excellent, resulting in a birdie that gave him a share of the lead after his fourth consecutive spherical of 65.

Brendon Todd, who performed with Kirk at Georgia, greeted him with a hug. Kevin Mitchell, one other former Georgia participant, dropped by on the observe vary for extra congratulations.

This was as a lot about returning than successful.

Kirk got here up one shot brief on Sunday as Kevin Na rallied on the again 9 with three straight birdies to take the lead, and a easy up-and-down behind the 18th inexperienced for a remaining birdie that gave him a one-shot victory.

That was a successful comeback. Kirk had one in all his personal.

He walked away from the sport in May 2019 for alcoholism and melancholy. He had reached a degree by means of nervousness and stress the place he was making an attempt to drink the correct amount of booze to really feel regular. He realized an excessive amount of would make him horrible, and never having something to drink would make him really feel bizarre.

Along together with his 4 wins, the spotlight of his profession was on the Presidents Cup in 2015 when he holed a 15-foot putt on the ultimate gap in South Korea, probably the most pivotal of photographs that led to a good U.S. victory.

I might say in 2013, 2014, 2015, after I was type of on the peak of my profession, that was type of the start, Kirk stated. Alcoholism is a really progressive illness, so at the moment I in all probability was not an alcoholic; I used to be simply on my option to being one. After the subsequent few years, issues type of received worse.

Once he was on the street to restoration, helped alongside by the help of his spouse and three younger sons, it was a matter of his profession. The tour gave him a significant medical extension for the time he missed, giving him a set variety of tournaments to do nicely sufficient to regain his full standing.

The Sony Open was the final occasion. He wanted a two-way tie for third.

Without that birdie on the ultimate gap, Kirk would have completed in a four-way tie for third.

Kirk nonetheless may have performed in tournaments that had room for him as a four-time PGA Tour winner, or obtained sponsor exemptions. Still, this was a burden lifted.

It completely adjustments all the things with the ability to be again to selecting my schedule like Im used to over the past variety of years, he stated. Its large. To go into every week and say Ive received to complete high three to maintain going and do it’s, you realize, foolish. Im grateful God put me in an awesome state of affairs, and also you by no means know whats going to occur.

It’s been a protracted street again for Kirk. He doesn’t have the star attraction, although he performed on the Walker Cup in 2007 that featured gamers like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson and Danny Willett.

In an interview with The Athletic final summer time, Kirk stated, I’m completely OK with saying this that, I suppose, earlier than this, there’s by no means actually been something all that attention-grabbing about me. Ive at all times been fairly good at golf. Other than that, I simply go about my enterprise.

That’s the plan going ahead, sober now for greater than 20 months, enjoying golf for ardour with out the type of stress that when almost price him greater than a PGA Tour card.

I feel that there have been various years there the place I simply wasnt very pleased with who I used to be and what I used to be doing and I used to be simply type of making an attempt to cover from that, he stated. I selected alcohol to type of get me away from the place I used to be. You know, loads of mendacity and hiding and the life that you just dwell in that state of affairs.

But I feel the largest perspective for me is I can get up daily and Im glad that I’m who I’m, and I’ve nothing to cover, he stated. I simply really feel like Im doing the very best I can and having fun with life. Its so simple as that.

Four rounds at 65 often is sufficient to win. It wasn’t this week on a course softened by in a single day rain and lacking the sturdy tropical wind that retains Waialae from being so weak.

Na hit the successful shot and was proud in his personal proper. He went eight years on tour earlier than his first win, seven seasons earlier than the subsequent one and now has received in every of his final 4 seasons. Winning is addictive.

Kirk was thrilled to be again. He loves the best way he’s enjoying and the way he’s residing. There is a quiet confidence about him that allowed him to strategy the Sony Open with peace, not taking a look at it as third-place or bust.

“It’s unimaginable, he stated. I might have by no means guessed that it could work out this fashion this week.

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