Kirk captures first PGA Tour victory at Viking Classic

By Associated PressJuly 17, 2011, 9:59 pm

MADISON, Miss. – After a tap-in putt for a one-stroke victory at the Viking Classic, Chris Kirk picked up his ball, gave a nearly indiscernible fist pump and strode off the course like a man who’s done it a hundred times.

Not exactly what you’d expect from a first-time PGA Tour winner.

“I gave a little bit of a fist pump, I think, didn’t I?” Kirk said grinning. “I don’t know. I made a three-inch putt to win. That’s not exactly an accomplishment. All the other shots I hit were pretty good, though.”

They certainly were. Kirk, a 26-year-old rookie, shot a 4-under 68 to beat Tom Pernice Jr. and George McNeill by one stroke at Annandale Golf Club. It ended an impressive week for the Georgia graduate, who tied the tournament record with a 22-under performance over four rounds.

Kirk had a one-stroke lead going into the final round and rarely flinched. He never trailed, breaking a tie with McNeill on No. 17 by hitting a 140-yard approach over water to within five feet of the hole for an easy birdie putt.

The bold shot looked risky. But Kirk calmly surveyed his options and said he never thought twice.

“People sometimes make more of it than what it is,” Kirk said. “It was 140 yards and it was a 9-iron, so I was aiming right at the pin and nowhere else. That was my only thought.”

Kirk played his first PGA Tour event at the Viking Classic in 2007, receiving a sponsor’s exemption just weeks after turning pro. But he missed the cut, and on Sunday marveled at how much things have changed in four years.

“It’s pretty amazing to think back to then, how far I’ve come from,” Kirk said. “My game isn’t that much better than it was then, but just the comfort level that I have now to be able to go out for 18 today and feel one hundred percent comfortable in my own skin.”

Annandale received more than 4.5 inches of rain over the past week, and the soft fairways and greens led to plentiful birdies throughout the tournament. But the final round proved to be the toughest, with scores rising slightly as the course dried out and wind picked up.

Sunghoon Kang, another rookie, and McNeill started the day one stroke behind Kirk, but couldn’t keep pace.

Pernice fell just short in his bid to become the second-oldest winner in tour history and the first over-50 player to win since Fred Funk in 2007. Sam Snead was 52 when he won the Greater Greensboro Open in 1965.

Pernice started the day two strokes back, but fired a 67 for the third straight day to stay in contention. He put his approach shot on No. 18 within 10 feet of the hole, but his birdie putt slid to the left at the last second. McNeill also missed a birdie putt on No. 18.

“I just needed to make a good firm stroke, maybe just outside the right edge and all that good stuff,” Pernice said. “But it looked like I pulled it.”

Pernice said Kirk’s victory wasn’t surprising considering his consistency throughout the season.

“The young guys are getting bigger and stronger and they’re able to compete right away,” Pernice said.

Kirk is the fifth rookie to win on the tour this season – just the second time that’s happened since 1970. He’s been consistent all season, ranking 51st on the money list coming into the Viking Classic, and just missed his first career win after finishing second to Phil Mickelson at the Shell Houston Open.

The victory earns Kirk $648,000 of the $3.6 million purse and 250 points in the FedEx Cup.

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.