Chris Kirk wins the McGladrey Classic

Chris Kirk (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

Chris Kirk (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

Chris Kirk won the 2013 McGladrey Classic on Sunday, fighting off Briny Baird and Tim Clark to claim his second career PGA Tour win.

What Happened

Baird and Kirk went into the final round tied for the lead at 10-under par and the two traded positions on the leaderboard for the entire day. Tim Clark, playing a few groups in front of them, had a tremendous final round, firing a 62 and getting into the clubhouse at 13-under par, forcing Baird and Kirk to post a good number. His approach on 18 was the best shot of the day on Sunday.

11.10.13 clark approach on 18

The action really picked up on the par-5 15th. After Kirk made a bogey on the 14th, Baird had a chance to go three up with three to play. He got on the 15th in two shots, but then proceeded to three putt, missing the last one from about three feet out. The lead was only one as the players moved to 16, and after a birdie by Kirk on 17, the players were tied headed to the closing hole.

Kirk found the middle of the fairway, while Baird yanked his ball left into a very steep bunker. From about 175 yards out, Baird took out a 4-iron and topped his ball into the water hazard, pretty much assuring Kirk of the victory. After a safe play into the green and two putts, Kirk was able to secure his second career PGA Tour win, and first since the 2011 Viking Classic.

Final Leaderboard

  • 1. Chris Kirk -14
  • T2. Briny Baird -13
  • T2. Tim Clark -13
  • T4. John Senden -12
  • T4. Scott Brown -12
  • T4. Brian Gay -12

What The Win Means For Kirk

Of the two players with a real chance on 18, Baird had the most to gain here, but this means a ton to Kirk as well. Being from Sea Island, this tournament likely means a little more to Kirk then it does to other players, and based on his talent level, you’d think that he’d have more than one PGA Tour win at this point in his career. He’s a big hitter with a good wedge game, and he managed to put it all together here this week, getting him into the WGC events for next season, and for the first time ever, he’ll be able to play the Masters. The value of that to any golfer, especially a Georgia native, is pretty much immeasurable. I also like a player that shows some emotion out there, like Kirk did after driving his ball into a hazard and chipping onto the green.

11.10.13 kirk sticks club

Outside of that, he’ll take home $990,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points for the win, and he’ll jump 37 spots in the Official World Golf Rankings, from 93rd to 56th.

What The Loss Means For Baird

Man, that was tough to watch. Baird, known mostly throughout his career for a weird putting stance and panama hats, has actually won the most money of any player on the PGA Tour without a victory, which isn’t something that you want to be known for, but it also means he’s had a fair bit of success. This week was his 365th start on the PGA Tour, and as Curt Byrum mentioned on the broadcast, despite what Tiger Woods does every year, it’s really difficult to win on the PGA Tour. Fortunately for Baird, there is a massive positive that he can take from this loss.

Last September, Baird had surgery on both of his shoulders and is currently playing on a major medical extension that gave him 14 starts to earn $493,399. This runner-up finish gets him to within about $10,000 of that number, and with 12 starts remaining on that extension, you’d think that he’d be able to make enough money here to retain his card for the 2014 season. For guys like him, that’s what matters most.

Other Notes

  • Notable finishes: Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar (T7), Zach Johnson (T16), Trevor Immelman (T20), Boo Weekley (T22), Harris English, David Toms and Charles Howell III (T27).
  • Notables to miss the cut: Kevin Na, Luke Guthrie, Freddie Jacobson and Vijay Singh.
  • Kris Blanks withdrew from the event in the second round citing a shoulder injury. It’s unclear what shoulder he was struggling with, but it’s worth noting that he had surgery in February on his left, which caused him to miss a good chunk of time.
  • Jason Kokrak made an ace on the 409-yard par-4 5th hole in Wednesday’s pro-am, which seems a little ridiculous when you consider that there were only nine drives on the PGA Tour during the 2013 season were longer than 409. Five of those came at Kapalua, where long drives are the norm, so Kokrak mashed that ball. Unfortunately, no video of the shot exists.
  • The runner-up finish for Clark was the first top-10 result he’s had since the Crowne Plaza back in May.
  • Worth noting the finish of the Australian PGA Championship as well. Masters winner and native Aussie Adam Scott was able to hold off Rickie Fowler to win by four shots.
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