Sometimes playing early can have its advantages. Just ask Chris Kirk.
After 54 holes of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Kirk found himself alone in 33rd - and last - place among the limited, winners-only field. That meant an early tee time during Monday's final round at Kapalua, which Kirk played without a partner after Kevin Stadler's withdrawal left the tournament with an odd number of participants.
Walking as a single, Kirk played quickly (2 hours, 48 minutes to be exact), but he also played well - really well. An outward 32 was followed by seven back-nine birdies, and Kirk's 11-under 62 tied a Plantation Course record previously set by K.J. Choi and matched by Graeme McDowell.
"It was one of those days, I guess," said Kirk, who needed only 23 putts. "Something kind of clicked for me on the back nine. I hit a lot of wedges close."
Kirk has now seen both sides of the spectrum in Maui, as his second-round 76 was the highest score of the week. He birdied six of the first seven holes on the back nine, and his final birdie drew him to within four shots of the lead after starting the day 15 shots off the pace. Of course, co-leaders Jimmy Walker and Hideki Matsuyama were only beginning their rounds when Kirk holed out on No. 18.
If nothing else, the final-round rally earned Kirk a little extra cash and some added momentum as he heads to the Sony Open later this week, where he was a runner-up a year ago.