‘Staying with me until … I die’: Why Chris Kirk holds closely 1 of his biggest fights

In victory at the PGA Tour’s Sentry event, Chris Kirk talked of one of his biggest fights. “Staying with me for until the day I die.”

The post ‘Staying with me until … I die’: Why Chris Kirk holds closely 1 of his biggest fights appeared first on Golf.

In victory at the PGA Tour’s Sentry event, Chris Kirk talked of one of his biggest fights. “Staying with me for until the day I die.”

The post ‘Staying with me until … I die’: Why Chris Kirk holds closely 1 of his biggest fights appeared first on Golf.

Don’t let the exterior deceive you, Chris Kirk says. The near-robotic gait. The wooden face.

It’s all a ruse, he admits, though a calculated one. 

Did you see it Sunday? The sham was on atop Kapalua’s 18th green, where Kirk was 15 feet and two strokes from victory at the Sentry, the former Tournament of Champions. It’d go down as the biggest win of the 38-year-old Georgian’s life. It’d pay significantly more than any of his other five PGA Tour wins. A cool $3.6 mill.    

You saw nothing, though. Nary a shake or a sweat, along with presumably the fewest number of heartbeats required to keep Kirk kicking. 

But don’t worry, he felt it all. 

Really. 

“I probably don’t look very happy, but that’s kind of by design,” he said shortly after two-putting and covering those 5 yards to win

“I sort of feel like — even on the last hole when all I needed to do was make par to win, I just was like, you know, I wasn’t willing to break character, if you will. I want to play where I don’t show any emotion. I’m certainly feeling it, obviously. I’ve just kind of found over the years that’s how I play my best. I’m truly just trying to go step by step, shot by shot, just little by little. 

“In my mind, the results are not — you add it up at the end, but it’s something you have no control over. You only have control over, like, right now, and so I try to spend as much time as I can during the day of just kind of zeroed in on what’s next.”

There’s a comfortable-in-his-own-golf-shirt vibe there, right? A feeling of he understands fully what the best version of him looks like.

But you want more proof, though. OK, here’s more.

Chris Kirk holds off Spieth, Theegala for 2024’s first PGA Tour title at the Sentry

By: Jack Hirsh

Did you see Kirk on 17 on Sunday? Oh goodness. With his second stroke, from just over two football fields out, dude curled a crisp 5-iron to a yard. A yard! It didn’t lock up the proceedings, but it’d take something silly to stop him. There’s a setup here, though, that you absolutely must hear. Kirk shared it. 

Playing partner Akshay Bhatia hit first, only he took some time to do so. The Hawaiian winds were Hawaiian wind-ing. Tee shots on the hole were into the breezes, Kirk said. Now, the breezes were straight downwind. Kirk held 7-iron. But he was still confused. The winds hadn’t done this before. As Bhatia hit, they then moved again, back into the players. Kirk grabbed his 5.  

Wait, wait, wait. 

Kirk was good with a 7, then felt some wind, then clubbed two clubs down, on maybe one of the biggest shots of his life?

Yes, yes he was. 

Knocked it to 3 feet, too. 

Moxie. 

He thought so, too. 

“Talk about a tough shot to commit to,” Kirk said. “When you’re about to pull 7 and you end up hitting 5, that doesn’t happen ever. 

“That never happens.”

There’s that vibe again. That feeling of self-best-understanding. 

There’s more. 

This is good, though you’d imagine it’d be sensitive. 

The Kirk story has taken a detour. Many lives do, of course. His had originally been on a rocket ship. In 2011, four years into his career, he won. From 2013 to 2015, he won three more times. In 2015, he played on the U.S. Presidents Cup team. And in May of 2019, he was done. He said he’d been battling alcoholism and depression for a while. He wouldn’t come back until that fall. In an excellent piece on the PGA Tour’s website (which you should take the time to read here), he described his breaking point this way:

“I was just fighting it and fighting it. Finally, after a couple of relapses, if that is what you want to call it, in April it was just like, ‘OK, I can’t do this anymore. I have got to change something because I am going to end up with nothing. …’

“It was when I realized I just really, truly do not have control over this, because I really wanted to not be doing it and I still was.”

But why bring this up? Kirk is sober now. He’s been so for almost five years. 

Kirk hopes you remember, though. 

Last February, when he won for the first time in nearly eight years, at the then-named Honda Classic, he answered each and every question about his fight. But now he’s won again. And you’d fear that folks would bring it all up again. It wouldn’t be just Kirk, the winning golfer. Would it ever be?

On Sunday, the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson asked him about that.  

We’ll end this piece about Kirk with their exchange. 

“When you were contending at Rocket Mortgage in 2020, and won on Korn Ferry, certainly won Honda last year, it’s always the guy who had to step away to overcome alcohol and depression, et cetera. How much longer will that be with you? When you do something great, that the first reference is, the guy who did this, as opposed to who you are as a player, and are you OK with that?”

Chris Kirk

‘I thank God that alcohol won’t be part of it’: Chris Kirk opens up on his fight

By: Nick Piastowski

“I hope it stays with me forever,” Kirk said.

“It’s a huge part of my life still now. Definitely the best thing that I’ve ever done in my life is to get sober. So, I understand what you’re saying, that, you know, but I don’t feel like it’s taking away from anything that I’m accomplishing. It’s 100 percent the reason why I’m able to do what I do. I’ve said that a lot, but there would be — my PGA Tour career would have been over a while ago had I not gotten sober. So, yeah, I’m fine with that staying with me for until the day I die.”

“Could you have done what you did without going public?”

“I’ve never really thought about that, if I could have. It certainly has been helpful and been beneficial to me to be open and be public about it. I live a decent amount of my life sort of in the public view, somewhat anyways, and so, you know, the biggest thing for me was waking up every morning and looking at myself in the mirror and knowing that I’ve got nothing to hide, and I can be proud of who I am. So, I didn’t feel like that was really going to be quite as possible if I was not open about it.”

“Kind of an accountability thing?”

“Somewhat, I guess so, yeah, but it was just more of just the freedom of not lying to myself and lying to other people, that’s what it was more. Yeah, there is some sense of accountability there, for sure.

“But, yeah, like I said, it’s definitely more about just, I felt free for the first time in a long time.”

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The post ‘Staying with me until … I die’: Why Chris Kirk holds closely 1 of his biggest fights appeared first on Golf.

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