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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Furyk on Tiger-Phil pairing: 'Probably not too likely'

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 26, 2018, 10:40 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – So much for the possibility of a Tiger-Phil pairing.

A day after Mickelson said that both he and Woods would “welcome” the opportunity to team up 14 years after their disastrous Ryder Cup partnership, U.S. captain Jim Furyk all but squashed the idea Wednesday.

“I guess nothing’s out of the realm,” Furyk said during his news conference. “I think they both mentioned it would be a lot better pairing than it was in the past. I won’t ever say it wouldn’t happen, but it’s probably not too likely.”


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Woods and Mickelson have grown closer since they both were part of the Ryder Cup task force. In 2004, U.S. captain Hal Sutton made the unprecedented move of pairing the top two players in the world – at that time, rivals who were not particularly close – to disastrous effect, as they went 0-2 together en route to a blowout American loss.

Mickelson said he’d welcome another pairing with Woods, then added, “I do have an idea of what Captain Furyk is thinking, yeah.”

And apparently he’s thinking no.

Furyk made similar remarks earlier this year, when he said that putting Woods and Mickelson together again "wouldn't be a good idea as a captain."

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Reed match taught McIlroy the need to conserve energy

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2018, 10:18 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – One of the most memorable Ryder Cup singles matches in recent history was also one of the most exhausting.

Rory McIlroy was asked on Wednesday at Le Golf National about his singles bout with Patrick Reed two years ago at Hazeltine National, when the duo combined for eight birdies and an eagle through eight frenzied holes.

“I could play it for nine holes, and then it suddenly hit me,” said McIlroy, who was 5 under through eight holes but played his final 10 holes in 2 over par. “The level sort of declined after that and sort of reached its crescendo on the eighth green, and the last 10 holes wasn't quite as good.”


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In retrospect McIlroy said the match, which he lost, 1 down, was educational and he realized that maintaining that level of emotion over 18 holes isn’t realistic.

“It looked tiring to have to play golf like that for three days,” he said. “I learnt a lot from that and learnt that it's good to get excited and it's good to have that, but at the same time, if I need and have to be called upon to play a late match on Sunday or whatever it is, I want to have all my energy in reserve so that I can give everything for 18 holes because I did hit a wall that back nine on Sunday, and it cost me.”

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U.S. team gives Tiger 'cold shoulder' after Tour Championship win

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2018, 10:08 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tiger Woods was one of the final members of Team USA to make it to the team room late Sunday in Atlanta after his travel plans were delayed by his victory at the Tour Championship.

As the team waited, captain Jim Furyk concocted a plan for Woods.

“I ran into Jim Furyk and he said, ‘We were thinking about giving Tiger the cold shoulder like they do in baseball when the guy hits his first home run.’ He asked, ‘Do you think Tiger will be OK with that?’” Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava told Ryder Cup Radio on Sirius/XM. “I was like, ‘Of course he would. He’s got a sense of humor.’”


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The U.S. team had plenty to cheer on Sunday with vice captain Steve Stricker also winning on the PGA Tour Champions. But it was Woods’ reception following his 80th PGA Tour victory and his first in five years that provided the best reaction.

“Tiger shows up about a half-hour later and is looking for some high-fives from everybody and they wouldn’t give him the time of day. They weren’t even looking at him, they all have their backs to him,” LaCava said. “He’s looking at me like what’s going on? He’s not a guy who is looking for fanfare, but these are his boys. He’s looking for 11 guys to run up and give him a good hug.”

LaCava said the team ignored Woods for about two minutes before breaking the silence with cheers and congratulations.

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How FedExCup has changed Ryder Cup prep

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 26, 2018, 8:56 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The improved play of the U.S. Ryder Cup team might be attributed to more than just youthful exuberance or camaraderie.

Phil Mickelson said the PGA Tour schedule is also a factor.

Mickelson argued this week that the advent of the FedExCup Playoffs, in 2007, has contributed to the Americans’ better results in the biennial matches. Save for the disastrous blowout in 2014 at Gleneagles, the Americans have either won or been locked in a tight match with the Europeans.

“I think the FedExCup is a big asset for us,” Mickelson said. “In the past, we’ve had six weeks off in between our last competition and the Ryder Cup. This year, although we might be tired, we might have had a long stretch, our games are much sharper because of our consistent play week-in and week-out heading into this event.”


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When presented with Mickelson’s theory, Justin Rose, the new FedExCup champion, countered by saying that the Europeans are the fresher team this week – and that could be more important during such a stressful event.

Seventeen of the 24 players here were in East Lake for the Tour Championship, meaning they not only played the minimum number of events for PGA Tour membership, but also played in at least three of the four playoff events.

Some of the European players, however, have remained loyal to their home tour and taken more time off. Henrik Stenson missed a few events to rest his ailing elbow. Sergio Garcia didn’t play for four weeks. And even Rose has adjusted his schedule during the latter part of the season, to make sure that he was as fresh as possible for the Ryder Cup. That meant skipping the pro-am in Boston and flying in on Thursday night, on the eve of the tournament, and reducing his number of practice rounds.

“It’s interesting,” Rose said. “They might feel like they are playing their way in and our guys are going to have a bit of gas in the tank. We’ll have to evaluate it on Sunday, but I’m hoping our strategy is going to be the one that pays off in the long run.”