FORT WORTH, Texas – There’s never a good time for a golfer to sustain an injury, but Chris Kirk’s broken hand certainly came at an inopportune point in the calendar last season.
Kirk injured himself playing with his kids at home shortly after the U.S. Open, and he didn’t return to action until The Barclays. The injury interrupted a promising season that included a one-shot win at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, where Kirk returns this week to defend his title.
Once back to competition, Kirk was slow to regain his form. He didn’t crack the top 25 until the RSM Classic in November, a drought that he attributed largely to his struggles on the greens.
“I think the only thing that people noticed about my golf last fall was one 15-footer I made in South Korea at the Presidents Cup,” Kirk said. “But that was about the only putt I made the entire fall, I think.”
Kirk’s poor play bled into this year, as he missed the cut in three of his first four starts. But a T-12 finish at Bay Hill sparked a turnaround, as the 31-year-old went on to record five top-25 finishes in a span of six starts, highlighted by a quarterfinal appearance at the WGC-Dell Match Play.
While that hot streak came to an end at The Players Championship, Kirk is hopeful that he’ll be able to contend once again on a course where he has finished T-16 or better four times since 2011.
“I’ve had some weeks where I felt like I was going to play really well and didn’t, so I guess that’s just the way golf goes, unfortunately,” he said. “But yeah, I feel good about my swing and about my game, so hoping the good memories here can spur me on to another solid week.”