Back in the winner's circle
June 20, 2020

Chris Kirk wins Korn Ferry event 13 months after taking leave for alcohol and depression

Chris-Kirk-wins-king-bear.jpg

Ben Jared

Chris Kirk holds the winning trophy after the final round of the Korn Ferry Tour's The King & Bear Classic at World Golf Village.

In May 2019, Chris Kirk’s life had deteriorated to a point where he felt he needed to step away from golf, clear his head and get his issues with alcohol and depression under control.

Thirteen months later, he’s a tournament winner once more.

Kirk got up-and-down for birdie at the par-5 18th to win the King & Bear Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour, his 25-under total good for a one-shot victory over Justin Lower in what was a week-long shootout in northeast Florida.

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“It feels great to get back in the winner’s circle,” Kirk said. “It’s been a little while for me. Hoping to carry some momentum over to the next few weeks and the rest of the year.”

It’s the first victory of any kind for Kirk since May 2015, when he won the Crowne Plaza Invitaitonal at Colonial for his fourth PGA Tour win. It’s also his third win on the Korn Ferry Tour, with the first two coming back in the summer of 2010 before he became a fixture on the PGA Tour.

Kirk, 34, still has a PGA Tour card and was the first alternate for this week’s RBC Heritage. He reached as high as No. 16 in the World Rankings in 2015 before struggling with his game and his personal life.

“I have dealt with alcohol abuse and depression for some time now,” he said when announcing his indefinite leave from professional golf.

“I thought I could control it, but after multiple relapses, I have come to realize that I can’t fix this on my own.”

He returned to the PGA Tour five months later at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, where he tied for 33rd. He missed his next five cuts in a row before finishing T-60 at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge.

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