Chris Kirk managed to come back and then hold on for his second win on the PGA Tour, the McGladrey Classic in Sea Island, Georgia.
Coming into the par-5 15th, Briny Baird was one up and hit his second shot to 40 feet from the hole. Kirk hit his second shot into the greenside hazard. It looked like game over. But Baird 3-putted and Kirk made a 20-footer for par. He later pulled even and then Baird made an unfortunate bogey on the 18th. It was Baird’s sixth second place finish.
Kirk explained the day’s progression:
It was a bizarre, bizarre day for me. You know, I mean I came out and hit some pretty loose shots in the first six holes or so, but made some good par‑saving putts.
And then you know, I kind of hit my stride a little bit around the turn into the front nine, beginning of the back 9. Was hitting a lot of really good, quality shots, hitting it right where I was looking, and then all of a sudden kind of had a little bit of a bad tee shot at 14, which wasn’t a horrible shot. That’s a really tough tee shot that just barely caught the edge of that hazard.
So he blithely goes on to the next hole and does the same thing:
And kind of got in between clubs a little bit on my second shot on 15. Didn’t quite think a 3‑iron would get there from 245, but knew that my hybrid might have been a little bit too much, so trying to take a little off of in that situation is always a little bit dicey. I probably should have just ripped a 3‑iron in hindsight.
But yeah, after hitting not such a great pitch, I kind of had a minute there while I was waiting for [Baird and Stadler] to putt to sort of gather myself a little bit, I guess, and just kind of said, you know, if I roll this putt in, I’m going to be at worse, two back with three to go and that still is a great chance. I mean you would take that at the beginning of the week every week if you could.
What should have been at least a two-shot swing ended up being a wash. He pulled even with a birdie on 17 and then won with Baird’s finishing bogey.
He talked about how the course demands decent tee shots, but he hasn’t been able get into the Top 100 in driving accuracy yet. This, however, was a good week:
Generally this is a course I would say it’s not an overly long course, so it tends to favor the shorter, straighter hitter. I’m not a bomber by any means, but a little bit longer than average, I guess, on Tour and have yet to finish inside the Top 100 in driving accuracy in my first three years on Tour.
I definitely rely on hitting some good iron shots from the fairway and not always from the fairway and good scrambling and putting. But this is a golf course that you really need to play from the fairway and thankfully I drove the ball well this week and the rest of my game was really good.
He also had some interesting insights into the inner workings of the Tour. He was asked if the veterans would be treating him any differently now that he’s won twice:
I mean in my situation now, probably not a whole lot. You know, I still feel like I’m far from being a veteran, that’s for sure. But just in the last year or so, you know, once you’re out here for three years or whatever it is and everybody kind of — you get to know everybody pretty much by that point. And so they’re not really looking at you like you might just be a flash in the pan one year and you’re a rookie and you’re done. So I think now at this point in my career probably doesn’t make that big of a difference.
He was asked if he ever watched golf on television. He finds the same fascination Eye On The Tour.com readers do with how players respond to pressure:
Yeah, I do. I watch a decent amount of golf on TV. Not a ton, but I like watching on Sundays if I’m not playing. I enjoy seeing how guys react, how they handle the pressure, because I know what they’re feeling, you know. I mean there’s a lot of people, a lot of fans, and some media as well can be pretty critical of what guys do on Sunday, but until you’ve felt that, nobody really knows what it’s like.
So I think it’s cool to see some of the great shots that the guys will hit, and I know that their hands are shaking and they can’t even think straight. So some of the stuff that people are able to pull off is pretty cool.
When he was asked what he learned from watching television, he reiterated what Baird said after Saturday’s round; you don’t have to play perfect golf to win:
I mean I’m sure I’ve picked up little tidbits here and there, but the biggest thing that I’ve learned over the years is that you don’t — and anybody could see this watching on Sunday. You don’t have to play perfect golf to win a Tour event. You can go week in, week out and you play really solid and you finish 20th, you know, and you’re just kind of like, man, I feel like everything’s gotta go my way, I’ve gotta play just perfect to win.
And then when you do win, you’re like, wow, you have some stuff like I did on 14 and 15 today. I had two 3‑putts yesterday. You definitely don’t have to play perfect golf. You just gotta play enough really good golf to make up for it.
And in what he did on the first two holes Sunday, he made the point of this entire post:
I mean from my first tee shot today I hit it straight left, into the trees, and miss hit my 3‑wood really bad on the second hole, too, and a few other loose shots here and there.
And then obviously you saw some of the not‑so‑great shots I hit on the back 9. But I still shot — what did I shoot today? 4‑under? 66?
So hey, I mean you can still make it work out.
“Make it work out,” as in, “I’m going to the Masters now!”