Kirk fires final-round 66 to win Deutsche Bank

By Doug FergusonSeptember 1, 2014, 10:04 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Chris Kirk made three big putts and captured the biggest win of his career Monday in the Deutsche Bank Championship. Whether that was enough for U.S. captain Tom Watson to add him to the Ryder Cup team was the least of his concerns.

Kirk won for the second time this season. He went the last 37 holes at the TPC Boston without a bogey. He played the final two rounds with Rory McIlroy and outplayed the No. 1 player in the world. And he closed with a 5-under 66 for a two-shot victory in a FedEx Cup playoff event.

Was it enough to convince Watson that he was worthy of a captain's pick?

''I certainly don't feel entitled, or feel like I'm a shoe-in to get a pick,'' Kirk said. ''I've obviously really put myself into consideration, and it's something that I would love to do. But like I've said before, the nine guys that made it are automatic. Those are the guys on the team. The other three? If you get in, it's a bonus.''

Then he looked at the blue trophy next to him and considered what he had just achieved.

''Winning the Deutsche Bank and going to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup, and $1.4 million, that's plenty for me for one day,'' he said with a smile.

Watson announces his selections Tuesday evening in New York.


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Ten shots behind after the opening round, Kirk was so disgusted that he skipped his usual practice session. He was flawless the rest of the week, particularly on Monday in another wild Labor Day finish at the TPC Boston.

Kirk made three big putts on the back nine - two of them for birdie - but what pleased him the most was his 15-foot putt for par on the 15th hole that kept him in the lead.

Billy Horschel had a chance to at least force a playoff - and possibly win - when he stood in the fairway on the par-5 18th hole with a 6-iron in his hand. Horschel chunked the shot so badly that it barely reached the hazard, and he made bogey for a 69.

''The worst swing I've made all week,'' Horschel said.

Horschel tied for second with 54-hole leader Russell Henley (70) and Geoff Ogilvy, who extended his unlikely run through these FedEx Cup playoffs. Ogilvy was the last of the 100 qualifiers for the Deutsche Bank Championship. He went 65-65 on the weekend without a bogey.

The top 70 in the FedEx Cup advance to the BMW Championship in Denver later this week. Ogilvy went from No. 100 to No. 24, and now stands a reasonable chance of getting to the Tour Championship for the top 30.

Kirk won for the third time in his career, though never against a field this strong, and never with this much riding on it.

He was No. 14 in the Ryder Cup standings, five spots away from being an automatic qualifier. This victory could go a long way toward Watson using one of his three selections on the 29-year-old from Georgia. Last week, Hunter Mahan bolstered his Ryder Cup case by winning The Barclays.

Kirk was trying not to think about that, saying he already had plans to be at the Georgia-Tennessee game the weekend (Sept. 26-28) of the Ryder Cup. But he would gladly break those plans for a trip to Scotland for golf's version of the Super Bowl.

''I would absolutely love to do it, but I'm not going to really base how happy I am with how I'm playing, or how my year has gone, on whether I make the team or not,'' Kirk said.

McIlroy, who started the final round only two shots behind on a course where he won two years ago, fell back with successive bogeys on the front nine, bounced back with a pair of birdies, and then fell out of the mix by missing two short par putts early on the back nine.

He closed with a 70 and tied for fifth with John Senden (66).

Kirk took the outright lead for the first time with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole. And right when it looked as if he was struggling with his swing, he saved par from a bunker with a 15-foot putt on the 15th. On the next hole, he made a birdie putt from just over 12 feet that gave him a two-shot lead.

Kirk, who finished at 15-under 269, failed to make birdie on a par 5 in the final round. He made a weak attempt on his 8-foot birdie try on the 18th.

That left it to Horschel, in prime position for at least a birdie.

''When Chris missed his birdie, I thought I was going to hit it on the green. I thought I was going to make the putt and make the eagle and win it outright,'' Horschel said. ''But it just wasn't my day, I guess, to hit that bad of a shot.''

A small consolation for Horschel was going from No. 82 in the FedEx Cup to No. 20, all but assuring a spot in the Tour Championship.

Six players moved into the top 70, though none was more surprising than Ogilvy. He became the first player in four years to go from No. 100 to the third playoff event.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.