Photo courtesy of Russ Glasson
2014 has become the Year of the Rory Mcllroy resurgence but it is also the Year of the Dawgs.
That’s because Chris Kirk’s win yesterday at the Deutsche Bank Championship was the 10th win of the PGA Tour season by a former Georgia Bulldogs player if you count Patrick Reed who eventually transferred from Georgia to Augusta State.
Kirk shot three sub 70 rounds, including matching Mcllroy’s 64 on Sunday to earn his second win of the season and take the top spot in the FedEx Cup standings. The Atlanta native now guarantees a hometown event in two weeks when he will play for a chance at $10 million and a FedEx Cup title at the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola.
“I’m still just in such shock that I actually won this tournament,” Kirk told some of the assembled media Monday night after his win. “It’s going to take me a little while to figure that out.”
Not only did Kirk match the 64 Rory shot an Sunday, he followed it up with a 66 on Monday. 12 birdies and no bogeys over the final 36 holes while paired with the top player in the world raised heads around the golf world. The question was, did American Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson take notice? Kirk wasn’t all that worried about it. He had enough going on.
“Winning the Deutsche Bank and going to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup, and $1.4 million, that’s plenty for me for one day,” Kirk said.
Those three perks almost didn’t happen either, especially after the way the week started for Kirk. After an opening round 73, Kirk started the tournament 10 shots off the opening round lead and was just trying to make the cut. He was so disgusted with his play that he skipped his usual practice session.
The change in his routine seemed to pay off as he went 66-64-66 in the final three rounds. Kirk still had to sweat it out a little before he ultimately clinched the title. In the clubhouse at 15-under after having shot a final round 66 he was one shot clear of Billy Horschel with Horschel playing 18. After hitting a great tee shot Horschel decided to try and go for the green in two on the par 5. An eagle would have given the Jacksonville native the win with a birdie forcing a playoff.
Horschel pulled out his 6-iron from just under 200 yards out and hit it fat with the ball landing about 50 yards shy of the green and into the hazard. He was unable to get up and down for a birdie at that point and Kirk had his second PGA Tour victory of the season.
“The worst swing I’ve made all week,” Horschel said.
The bogey on 18 not only dropped Horschel into a tie for second with Honda Classic winner and 54-hole leader Russell Henley and Geoff Ogilvy, it also prevented him from locking up a spot in the Tour Championship this week.
“I’m pretty pissed off about that,” he said. “Making that bogey, I think, sort of dropped me outside of possibly the top 10 in the FedEx. I could have secured my spot just a little bit better.”
It was still a successful week for Horschel though. He started the week at 82nd in points and needing to play his way in to this week’s BMW Championship. His win moved him to 20th in points and all but locked up spots in the final two tournaments.
“There’s always a lot of positives to take away from this week,” he said. “First time I’ve been in this position all year. I handled myself. I stayed calm, stayed patient, played well. Made one bad swing, and it happens to come on the last hole. Maybe if it comes earlier in the round, I have time to recover from it.”
Ryder Cup Rosters Taking Form
While the top nine in Ryder Cup points on the American side have been locked in for a few weeks now, this weekend signified the cut off date for the nine automatic qualifying spots to get locked in for the European side. Rory Mcllroy, Henrik Stenson, Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Bjorn, and Graeme McDowell all earned automatic qualifying spots on the European Ryder Cup team.
This morning, European captain Paul McGinley made his three captains picks. He selected Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter, and Lee Westwood to finish off the team that he will take to Gleneagles at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, American captain Tom Watson will make his final three selections tonight at 6pm on the Golf Channel. His three captains selections will join Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Speith, Patrick Reed, and Zach Johnson on an American side looking to make up for the collapse in 2012.
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