Chris Kirk may not be a household name yet, but he’s doing everything right recently, and he will spend Saturday night sleeping on the lead at the Sony Open at Waialae. It’s got to be an exciting evening for the Atlanta native, but considering all he’s gone through in his career to get where he is today, I’m sure this pressure is nothing.
Kirk’s path to the PGA Tour has been anything but easy. He spent several years grinding what was the Nationwide (now the Web.com Tour) just trying to earn his card. He played some sporadic events on the top circuit, missing the cut in all three tournaments he played in 2008, and earning his way into the U.S. Open in both 2008 and 2009. When he finally earned a full-time card in 2011, he missed nearly as many cuts as he made, but his breakthrough came at that year’s Viking Classic. That was his first win on Tour, but also his last.
Until this year, that is. Kirk took full advantage of the wraparound portion of the schedule to get his game in top shape for the year ahead, and found his way back to the winner’s circle two months ago at the McGladrey Classic. After the holiday break, Kirk came to Hawaii ranked fifth in scoring average this season, and he’s furthering that cause after his six-birdie, one-bogey outing Saturday shot him to the lead.
Oh, and about those other two times Kirk held at least a share of the 54-hole lead on Tour? One was that Viking win in 2011, and the other his last victory at the McGladrey. With the leaderboard sure to be volatile on Sunday, nothing is for sure yet, but having worked so hard just to get here, I’d be surprised to see Kirk let go of this lead easily.