Everything was going right for Chris Kirk.
Last year’s Honda Classic winner was making birdie after birdie at Kapalua’s Plantation course, extending the one-shot lead he began the day out to two and even three.
But everyone else was rolling too during a crazy low-scoring week at the Sentry.
By the time Kirk reached the 15th hole, he was six under for the day, 27 under for the week, but he was tied with Jordan Spieth and trailing Sahith Theegala by one.
However, he never waivered in making the game look easy, knocking it on par-5 in two and making an easy birdie before delivering a knockout blow two holes later.
From 209 yards, Kirk’s five-iron never left the flag as it landed a few paces short of the green and rolled out to just two-and-a-half feet from the cup.
He then coasted down the 18th with a par to come home with a 65 and win the Sentry at 29 under, collecting his sixth career PGA Tour title.
“Just kind of kept reminding myself of no matter how I felt, no matter how nervous I was, there was nothing really stopping me from hitting great shots, hitting great putts,” Kirk said. “And I was able to kind of remind myself of that before every shot and that one on 17 I’ll remember for a long time.”
Kirk’s win at Kapalua comes in his first attempt at the PGA Tour’s year-opening event in eight years after he punched his ticket to Maui by winning the Palm Beach event last spring. That was his first victory in almost eight years, a time during which he left the game for a period in 2019 while he dealt with alcoholism.
His breakthrough last year helped him finish in the top 50 of the FedEx Cup standings, giving him entry into all of the PGA Tour’s $20 million Signature events for this season.
Now he’ll get to cash one of the $3.6 million first-place checks from the first of those eight events.
“I’m just enjoying competing, I’m enjoying the work, I love, I didn’t have that for awhile and to be back to loving what I do,” Kirk said. “I love the process of working to be the best player that I can when I’m working on that, and then … working on being as good of a father and husband as I can when I’m off the golf course. It’s a constant process and I’m just loving every minute of it.”
But it wasn’t without a challenge as Kapalua played to a scoring average of 66.7 Sunday, the lowest single round in the event’s history, besting the record set Friday by nearly a shot. As Kirk failed to birdie 12, 13 and the drivable par-4 14th, Spieth and Theegala made their moves.