Chris Kirk has battled alcoholism and depression and has now won the Honda Classic, his first PGA Tour win in seven years.


It has been 2836 days since Chris Kirk last won at Tour PGA. However, after claiming his first victory in more than seven years on Sunday, it was not the first milestone for the American. golf player was on his mind.

An incredible playoff victory over compatriot Eric Cole at the Honda Classic in Florida sealed the American’s fifth PGA Tour title and his first since he went sober nearly four years ago.

“Everything I have in life I owe to my sobriety,” Kirk told reporters at the PGA National Resort.

“I wouldn’t make a living doing this anymore. I probably wouldn’t have the family that I have now. I was very close to losing everything that was dear to me.

“In order for this to happen and work for me, there were obviously some decisions I made, but mostly the grace of God and a lot of other people who really helped me along the way.

“It’s something I think about all the time, so it’s pretty easy for me to understand that winning the Honda Classic is kind of a bonus when literally everything good that I have in life I owe to it.”

Kirk during the final round.

On the eve of his 34th birthday in May 2019, Kirk announced that he would be taking an “indefinite leave of absence” from golf to deal with his alcohol abuse and depression.

“I thought I could control it, but after a few relapses, I realized that I couldn’t fix it on my own,” Kirk added. social media posts.

By that point, his world ranking, which had reached No. 16 after his fourth PGA Tour win at the 2015 Colonial, had dropped to No. 188. He failed to qualify for four tournaments in a row, missing a total of 11 of just 17 tournaments in the 2018-19 PGA Tour season.

Tied A 15th-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational represented Kirk’s only top 40 finish in the campaign.

When he returned to the Tour at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November 2019, his rankings dropped even further – he was No. 1 in the world. 303 – but Kirk was a rejuvenated man.

A candid interview with the PGA Tour on the eve of his return shed light on the golfer’s many previous failed attempts to cut alcohol.

Kirk, who said there was a history of alcoholism in his family, added that he gave up beer in late 2017, switching to wine and spirits like vodka and bourbon. This transition was a solution to his growing weight, but it only “accelerated” his drinking problems.

For Kirk, his openness was just a personal catharsis. Subsequently, the reaction of others startled him.

Kirk congratulates his caddy after the victory.

“Many people have contacted me directly and said, ‘I read your story or heard your story and it made me decide it was time. [to quit]Kirk said.

“When I first came back to the game and was very open and honest, I didn’t think about it at all. It was more… for me, because I felt like I lived this life for several years, where I just lied to myself, lied to my family, hid a lot of things.

“So the honesty of the process I went through to get better was so sweet that I had nothing to hide, and so it was natural for me.

“But now a little about the back, it was amazing. As I said, it’s not something that I actually saw, but to be able to connect with people and … to have someone say “I got sober thanks to you and my life has changed thanks to you”, you can actually Words can’t really describe how unrealistic this is.”

On Sunday, it looked like disaster struck Kirk on the 18th when his second shot hit a water hazard to the right of the hole.

The American recovered well, but his subsequent bogey saw him make the playoffs against Cole, his 34-year-old compatriot who was ranked No. 330 in the world prior to this tournament, who was chasing his first PGA Tour title.

For both players, it was their first time in the PGA Tour playoffs, and for Kirk, it meant repeating the hole that nearly crushed him a few moments ago.

Once again, Kirk seemed to be sliding into a heartbreaking faint as his tee ball landed next to a tree. However, an incredible backlash saw the 37-year-old shoot 267 yards to the green bunker before nearly breaking his subsequent sand throw.

As Cole’s bird strike agonized over the hole in his lip, Kirk tapped the target, winning the bird and winning.

In addition to securing him $1,512,000 in prize money, Sunday’s triumph puts Kirk in first place in the world. 32nd and 6th in the FedEx Cup rankings. It’s also nice that it secures him a place at The Masters in April and the opportunity to take his wife and three sons to Augusta with him.

“I’m keeping a close eye on this world rankings, trying to stay in the top 50, but to take care of that this week, it’s going to be something incredibly special,” Kirk said.

“This par-3 competition can’t happen soon enough. I’m really looking forward to this. All week, but just to be able to leave these memories with my wife and my kids will be amazing.”

Kirk will play the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando on Thursday. Kirk celebrates with a Diet Coke with friends on Sunday. On the eve of the tournament, Kirk would have his first chance to toast to victory with his family.

“There will be a lot of celebration and I thank God that alcohol won’t be part of it,” Kirk said.

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