Feb 27th, 2023
Chris Kirk wins the Honda Classic
American claims his first PGA Tour title since 2015
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
The pair tied at fourteen-under, with Kirk shooting a final round 69 with Cole two better with a 67. Cole had an opportunity to extend the playoff but his ten-foot birdie effort agonisingly lipped out, leaving Kirk to claim the title with his much shorter birdie putt.
"I was obviously very, very nervous today having not won in so long," Kirk said. "Coming down the stretch, I felt good."
Kirk, who last won at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in 2015, took an indefinite leave from golf in 2019 following issues with alcohol and depression.
A major medical extension for the missed time meant that Kirk had a set number of tournaments to regain his full status. A runner-up spot at the Sony Open in 2021 saw him narrowly get his full card back.
"I came really close to losing everything I cared about," he said.
"I'm so grateful for my sobriety. I'm so grateful for my family. I'm so grateful for everyone that supported me throughout the past three or four years, especially."
The win earned Kirk $1,512,000 and a trip to Augusta for the first time since 2016. It was a big payday for Cole, whose $915,600 winnings were more than double his take home from his last dozen events.
American Tyler Duncan finished third on twelve-under, two shots back from the leaders, with compatriot Ryan Gerard a further two shots back.
Defending champion Sepp Straka, England's Ben Taylor and Shane Lowry of Ireland were among five players who tied for fifth on nine-under.