5 Things: Kirk hangs on for McGladrey win
Monday, November 11, 2013
Sometimes a win on the PGA Tour means heartbreak for someone else, and that was the case Sunday in St. Simons Island, Ga., when Chris Kirk survived charges from Briny Baird and Tim Clark to earn his second career win.
Kirk's final-round 66, sealed by playing the last six holes in an unremarkable even par, was his third of the week – while Baird bogeyed the 18th to finish tied for second alongside Clark, one shot ahead of Scott Brown, Brian Gay and John Senden.
Here are 5 Things to Know from the McGladrey Classic:
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1. KIRK'S CAPTAIN OF ST. SIMONS: Watching Baird misplay his final approach shot of the day, Kirk went from firing at a birdie to playing safe for par. But it was three rounds of 66 that put the part-time St. Simons Island resident in position to win late Sunday.
"To come here to Sea Island, which is a place that I love and cherish so much, and Davis's tournament, it just an unbelievable thing," Kirk said. "Davis was kind of my guy when I was 12 and 13, really starting to play golf. He was my favorite player, and he's turned from being my idol to sort of a mentor and good friend. So I'm a very lucky person to be in that situation, and to win his tournament really means a lot to me."
Kirk's biggest test came at the par-5 15th, where Baird reached the green in two and Kirk hit a hybrid into the water. A weak chip then left Kirk with a 20-footer for par – but Baird three-putted from 40 feet, and Kirk made his par putt to stay within a shot.
A birdie at the 17th tied the two to set up the decisive final hole. Since the first McGladrey Classic in 2010, the tournament has yet to be decided by more than one shot.
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2. BAIRD FALLS SHORT AGAIN: It was an unfortunate finish for Briny Baird, who has gone 365 PGA Tour starts without a victory.
Tied for the lead with Chris Kirk heading into the final hole, the par-4 18th, Baird hit his approach shot from a fairway bunker into the water. He made bogey to slip into a tie for second, one shot back of Kirk.
"I didn't have obviously a really good lie, but it was a doable shot," said Baird, 41, who is playing on a major medical extension after surgeries on both shoulders in 2012. "My foot just slipped. I didn't do a good job."
Baird's runner-up finish is the sixth of his Tour career. Among players with their Tour cards, he has gone the longest without a win.
"It's disappointing," Baird said. "I fought really, really hard. I really did. I didn't play particularly well today. I hung in there really good. I made some putts when I needed to make some putts."
His final putt, a 25-footer for bogey at No. 18, was the biggest of them all. Keeping him in a tie for second, the putt earned him $480,000 – enough money to secure his Tour card for the rest of the 2013-14 season.
"There's always a silver lining," Baird said.
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3. CLARK ON THE MARK: What a final round it was for Tim Clark.
The 37-year-old South African birdied his final three holes en route to an 8-under 62. The effort gave Clark a joint runner-up finish with Baird at 13 under.
"I haven't played this sort of golf in quite a long time, you know, really since the injury," said Clark, who had wrist surgery in 2010. "I'm starting to feel like my game might be back to where it was three years ago."
It's his best round on the PGA Tour since he shot 62 in the second round of the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship.
It was also the best round of the tournament, as Clark missed just two fairways and one green, made nine birdies and recorded just one bogey. His proximity to the hole was impressive, as well, as Clark hit 12 approach shots to within 15 feet.
Clark has now made four starts so far in the 2013-14 PGA Tour season. He's made three of his first four cuts, but this week marks the first time he's finished better than T-31.
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4. KUCHAR COMFORTABLE, TOO: Another Sea Island resident, Matt Kuchar, also carded a 66 Sunday as he finished T-7 while making his first appearance of the 2013-14 season.
Kuchar, who finished second in FedEx Cup points in 2013, started last season with two straight top-10 finishes and three in his first five events.
In his third McGladrey Classic start, Kuchar has yet to card a round over par. He's also yet to finish outside the top 25 (T-25 in 2010, T-20 in 2011).
Kuchar is the Tour's leader in consecutive made cuts with 28, his last MC taking place during the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course. Perhaps even more impressive: The Georgia Tech product has made 78 of 81 cuts since an MC at The Players Championship in 2010.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Webb Simpson, who won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in his first start of the Tour season, notched another top-10 finish, carding a final-round 66 to end up tied for seventh at 10 under. . . . Zach Johnson's final-round 67 may have included a double bogey and a bogey in the final three holes, but it also was Johnson's eighth straight round of 70 or better to begin this Tour season. . . . Next week's OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico, will wrap up the fall portion of the Tour season.
– Associated Press and PGA Tour contributed.