Chris Kirk ties for 14th at Colonial as he solidifies his case

05/25/2014 10:12 PM

05/26/2014 12:04 AM

Chris Kirk is the American professional golf stalwart you may have barely heard of.

After finishing Sunday’s final round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, he’s the guy sitting fifth on the PGA Tour in consecutive cuts made at 19.

Kirk also has collected two career wins, with one coming this season. He is eighth in the FedEx Cup standings, 12th in Ryder Cup points and ranked 48th in the World Golf Ranking.

His final-round 71 at Colonial left him tied for 14th after starting Sunday just one shot back of the four 54-hole leaders, who were at 7-under 203.

Sunday, though, was when Kirk’s sideways start from Thursday resurfaced.

“This week was a bit of a mixed bag,” Kirk said. “Shooting 3 over the first day was a rough spot to be in, but then playing well on consecutive days to get back in contention and one off the lead was a real plus.

“I just got off to a bad start today, making bogey on 4 and double on 5, and just never really got going.”

Still, it’s the consistency in which Kirk has emerged on the American golf radar. He sits tied for 7th among his peers in first- and second-round scoring average on tour this season.

“For me personally, making cuts is the big part of the game,” he said. “Especially on days when I don’t play my best, but to turn it around and salvage it and grind it out sort of shows that I don’t really give up and I fight for it.”

Those are traits that U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson will be looking for this fall.

But the former University of Georgia standout isn’t looking for a captain’s pick.

“I’m not really a goal setter, but maybe in the back of my mind something like the Ryder Cup I’m aware of,” he said. “But as of right now, I feel like I’ve had a pretty good year, but I don’t feel like I’ve had a good enough year to deserve to be on the team, yet. I can honestly change a lot of that in the next couple of months.”

Kirk made a case for resiliency this week. He started Thursday even-par through 13 holes before two double bogeys sandwiched around a birdie left him with a 73.

He backed that up with two birdies to start his round Friday on his way to a six-birdie 64 and a spot in weekend play.

While making cuts might be an art form, Kirk has turned it into a money-making machine, capturing just north of $2.5 million this season.

“You basically have to keep in your mind that if you do it enough times, you’re going to be OK,” Kirk said. “I was 3 over here after the first day and ended up with a chance to win the golf tournament. You do that often enough or even in tough situations like I was at The Players, you learn to not give up.”

Kirk put himself in position to play for a plaid jacket Sunday by shooting 67 in Saturday’s third round.

He struggled Sunday, though. He opened with a birdie on No. 3, but then followed with a bogey at No. 4 and double at No. 5.

“I made two birdies on the way in and thankfully no more bogeys, but never could really get anything going,” Kirk said. “I’m just a guy that tries to go along and just play the best I can.”

Kirk will play Memorial starting Thursday before taking time to prepare for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

“I’m looking forward to some time off, really. I haven’t played a U.S. Open since Bethpage, so I’m looking forward to Pinehurst,” he said.

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