Chris Kirk battled alcoholism and depression – now has his first PGA Tour win in seven years | CNN


It has been 2,836 days since Chris Kirk won the PGA Championship. However, after getting his first win in over seven years last Sunday, this is not the first step on the American player’s mind.

A nail-biting victory over brother Eric Cole at The Honda Classic in Florida sealed the American’s fifth PGA Tour title, and his first since he quietly retired nearly four years ago.

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

“I’m not going to do this for a living anymore. I may not be able to have the family I have now. I came to really lose everything I cared about.

“For that to happen and work for me, obviously there were some decisions I made, but mostly the grace of God and many other people who helped me along the way.

“It’s something that’s always on my mind, so it’s easy for me to see that winning the Honda Classic is a kind of gift when in fact all the good things I have in my life have been responsible for that.”

On the eve of his 34th birthday in May 2019, Kirk announced he would be taking “indefinite time off” from golf to deal with alcoholism and depression.

“I thought I could handle it, but after many relapses, I realized I couldn’t fix this on my own,” Kirk added. social media posts.

During this time his world ranking, which had reached 16th after his fourth PGA Tour victory at the Commonwealth Championship in 2015, dropped to 188. He failed to decide in four consecutive events, losing a total of 11 over just 17 events in the 2018-19 PGA Tour season.

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

When he returned to the tour at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November 2019, his ranking had dropped further – he was 303rd in the world – but Kirk was a man of renewed life.

A candid interview with the PGA Tour on the eve of his return sheds light on the former golfer’s unsuccessful attempts to quit alcohol.

Kirk, who says there is a history of alcoholism in his family, added that he gave up alcohol at the end of 2017, switching to strong spirits like beer, vodka, and bourbon. The change was a decision to deal with his weight gain, but it only helped to “accelerate” his alcohol problems.

For Kirk, his opening was only about personal catharsis. After that, the response that others gave him made him disappear.

Kirk congratulated him after the win.

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

“When I came back to play and I was open and honest about it, it wasn’t on my mind at all. It’s more… for me because I felt that I lived this life for many years where I just lied to myself, I lied to my family, I was hiding a lot of things.

“So the truth about the process I went through to get healthy I just felt so good that I had nothing to hide, so it was only natural for me to do it.

“But now at the back end a little bit, it’s amazing. Like I said, it’s not something that I’ve seen happen, but to be able to interact with people and… for someone to say, ‘I’m smart because of you , and my life has changed because of you,’ you can’t really put into words how untrue that is.”

On Sunday, disaster seemed to strike Kirk on the 18th when his second shot went into the water hazard to the right of the hole.

The American recovered well, but a back-to-back bogey saw him drop out of the match against Cole, the 34-year-old countryman – ranked 330th in the world ahead of the event – who is chasing his PGA Tour title.

For both players, it represented his first PGA Tour experience, and for Kirk, it meant replaying the hole that nearly crushed him in the past.

In addition, Kirk seems to be slipping towards a broken heart when his street shot sits next to a tree. However, a stunning response saw the 37-year-old produce a 267-yard effort into the green bunker before almost catching an eagle’s way with his next shot from the sand.

When Cole’s birdie rolled into the lip hole, Kirk went home for the birdie and the win.

As well as earning him $1,512,000 in prize money, Kirk’s victory on Sunday moved him to 32nd in the world and sixth on the FedEx Cup list. As sweet as it is, it gives him a spot at The Masters in April and the opportunity to take his wife and three children to Augusta.

“I’ve been watching this World Series carefully, trying to be in the top 50, but to maintain it this week, that’s going to be amazing,” Kirk said.

“This par-3 tournament can’t come soon enough. I really hope so. All week long, but just to be able to make these memories with my wife and kids would be amazing. ”

On Thursday, Kirk will fly to Orlando to invite Arnold Palmer. Celebrating the win with a diet coke with friends on Sunday, the eve of the tournament will mark the first opportunity for Kirk to celebrate his victory with family.

“There’s going to be a lot of partying, and thank God there won’t be any alcohol involved,” Kirk said.

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