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Steady Kirk fires 65 with no bogeys

By Ryan Pritt, Staff writer

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Chris Kirk has come a long way since missing the cut at 9 over par in the 2012 Greenbrier Classic, and on Thursday, he showed it.

Kirk fired a bogey-free 5-under 65 as part of the morning surge, placing him in an eight-way tie for second place going into today’s second round.

It was just another solid opening round for one of the most consistent players on tour. Kirk hasn’t missed a cut all year and is riding a streak of seven straight top-30 finishes, including a tie for 28th at the U.S. Open and a tie for 20th at The Masters.

After a career-best 31st-place finish in the FedExCup points last season, the 29-year-old sits in seventh on that list this year, ranks 11th in Ryder Cup points and is No. 45 in the World Golf Rankings.

“I feel really good with all aspects of my game,” Kirk said. “I know not everything’s going to be there every day, but yeah, very happy with how steadily I’m playing.”

He was steady and then some in the Classic’s opening round, turning in the only bogey-free round among those at 5 under or better.

Kirk echoed the sentiments of most players who went off in the morning on Thursday as a good number of those players were able to take advantage of greens softened up by Wednesday’s late storm.

“A little softer than [Wednesday], just with the storm that came through [Wednesday] night,” Kirk said. “But the course held up really great. The greens were just absolutely perfect. They were really receptive. So that’s why you’re seeing the good scores.”

While it may be easy to get distracted by all of the activities that come along with the Greenbrier Classic, Kirk is embracing them. After lighting up the Old White TPC on Thursday morning, he was off to catch some trout in Howard’s Creek with his caddy and playing partner, Scott Brown.

“I’m enjoying it,” Kirk said. “I went up to the gun club [Wednesday] and shot some clays for a little while, and I’m going to see if I can catch some trout [Thursday] afternoon. So yeah, it’s nice, all the extracurricular activities they have for us.”

Kirk’s No. 7 FedExCup standing is just part of the stranglehold that University of Georgia alumni are placing on the PGA Tour. Among the top 10 in points, four are former Bulldogs — Bubba Watson (second), Harris English (ninth), Kirk and Brendon Todd (10th).

Each of those four has at least one win on the PGA Tour this season, as has fellow Bulldog alumnus Russell Henley.

Todd and Kirk were part of the 2005 Georgia team that won a national championship. Kirk isn’t surprised with the Bulldog takeover.

“We had some really, really good teams at Georgia,” Kirk said. “We were No. 1 in the country for a long time, and so now all those guys are out here.”

Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, ryan.pritt@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.


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