Now healthy, defending champ Kirk in familiar spot

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NORTON, Mass. – Chris Kirk grew a lot larger on golf’s radar this time a year ago.

His FedEx Cup playoff run was full of highs and lows, with Kirk winning the Deutsche Bank Championship to leap into the running for a U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s pick. A week after winning, however, he was passed over when Tom Watson named Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson his captain’s picks.

Bradley offered consolation to Kirk in the wake of that announcement, saying: “I feel for him, but the thing about Chris is, he’s going to be on tons of teams from here on out.”

Will Bradley’s prognostication begin to take shape this week?

Kirk, 30, who missed most of this summer recovering from a broken bone in his right hand, is back at TPC Boston defending his title at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He can secure a spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup team this week. He’s 10th on the American points list with the top 10 automatically qualifying for the team at the conclusion of the Deutsche Bank Championship. U.S. captain Jay Haas has been keeping tabs on Kirk's recovery. Haas will add his two captain’s picks on Tuesday.

“I don't really put too much pressure on myself, to be honest with you,” Kirk said. “It would be a huge honor for me to make the team and be able to represent my country. But it's not like I’ll go out on the range this afternoon and I'm going to hit an extra bucket of balls so I can make the Presidents Cup team. You just go and play and try to play as best you can, and see how it works out.”

Kirk broke his hand chasing his two young children around his backyard after the U.S. Open. He said he slipped and broke the last metacarpal bone in his right hand catching himself in the fall. He won the Crowne Plaza Invitational in May, his fourth PGA Tour title, but lost that momentum in his time off. He didn’t play an event for nine weeks before making his return to The Barclays last week, where he missed the cut.

“I didn't play as well as I would have liked, but it was nice just getting back out there and knocking a little bit of rust off,” Kirk said. “And most importantly, my hand felt great. It didn't hurt at all, wasn't uncomfortable at all to play.”