Kirk’s remarkable victory


38-year-old American golfer Chris Kirk scored his second victory in two years in the American PGA Series on Sunday evening (South African time) when he won the Tournament of Champions on the Plantation course in Kapalua in Hawaii by one stroke.

Kirk completed the final round in 65 strokes and finished at 263 strokes (-29).

What makes his victory remarkable is that he took a break from golf in 2019 to receive treatment for alcoholism and depression.

He pushed through and resumed his golf career after six months.

He won the Honda Classic tournament last year and was honored by the American PGA with an award for bravery.

Kirk’s winning score on Sunday night (in one of the PGA’s eight select tournaments with big prize money) was one stroke better than that of his countryman Sahith Theegala (264, -28) with Jordan Spieth third at 265 (-27).

Spieth was followed by Byeong-Hun An of South Korea (266,-26) with his countryman Sung-Jae Im and the Americans JT Poston, Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa and Brian Harman all together a further stroke back on 267 (-25 ).

The unsung Akshay Bhatia, who was second after the third round, started his last round on a nightmarish note when he couldn’t get his ball after his tee shot on the first hole. He was penalized with one stroke and had to tee off again.

He never recovered and shot 71 to finish 14th on 270 (-22).

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen scored 65 shots in the final round and finished on 271 shots (-21).

This earned him prize money of almost R4.4 million.

Kirk, who earned around R67.4 million with his victory, earned himself a place in this year’s American Masters.

Before the Tournament of Champions, he was just outside the top 50 players in the world ranking, but his victory made him move up quite a few places.

In addition, he will also return to Hawaii next year.

  • Source: The Golf Channel