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Kirk (67) offers fresh insights on distance debate

Chris Kirk
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“I thought I could control it, but after multiple relapses I have come to realize that I can't fix this on my own.” - Chris Kirk said in a statement when he announced that he is taking "an indefinite leave" from the PGA Tour to address issues with alcohol abuse and depression.  - 

NORTON, Mass. – Chris Kirk is not your prototypical PGA Tour player. He doesn’t bash the ball ridiculously long distances and he doesn’t see any benefit, at least for himself, to try.

Nor does he see any reason to change the way golf is played.

“The game is a little different than it was around my rookie year,” said Kirk, who explained he ranked 56th in driving distance his first year on the PGA Tour (2011) with a 295-yard average but now ranks 155th with a 290-yard average. “So it is changing.”

Where Kirk differs from many - most notably in the rule-making sector - is why the game has evolved to favor the bombers.

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“The driver and the ball don't go any further than they did eight years ago. That's the thing that everybody is missing,” said Kirk, who opened with a 67 for a share of the early lead at the Dell Technologies Championship. “Guys are making it go further. People wanting to change the rule and change the ball and change the stuff, it doesn't matter.”

Kirk pointed to improvements in fitting and optimizing a particular player’s launch conditions to explain the distance gains, but the main difference in recent years is how players have simply become better athletes.

“Every professional sport, it doesn't matter, guys continue to get better, that's just the way it goes. And I don't see why everyone has such an issue with that,” he said.