Chris Kirk's Keys to Victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational
Crowne Plaza Invitational winner Chris Kirk had a rough time from tee to green at Colonial, ranking T60 in fairways hit and T62 in greens hit. So, how did he win? By shining on the greens.
Kirk made 56 of 59 putts from nine feet and under, a 94.9% conversion rate. He placed second in strokes gained putting and three putted just once. He also made a lot of clutch putts in the final round, starting off with a 13-footer for eagle on the first hole. He was flawless on the back nine, draining putts from 18 feet, 5 feet and, on the final hole, 7 feet. While Kirk was making the key putts, the three players that finished behind him told a different story. Jason Bohn missed birdie putts on 10 and 14; Brandt Snedeker missed birdie putts on 16, 17 and 18; Jordan Spieth three-putted the 16th hole for bogey; it was his first three-putt in 183 holes dating back to the final round of the Masters.
The PGA Tour allowed players to take their ball in hand on fairways and in the rough on Sunday, and Kirk turned it into a key advantage. In the final round, he missed six fairways and greens, giving him a more favorable lie, especially on 17 and 18.
When Kirk gets into contention, he closes the deal. In the 132 events he has played, he has gone into the final round with the lead, a share of the lead, or within five shots of the lead 20 times. He has won four of those events (a 20% success rate), finished second three times and notched a total of 11 top-five finishes.
With three wins since the start of the 2013-14 season, Kirk has entered elite company. There are only two players with more Tour wins over the last two seasons: Rory McIlroy and Jimmy Walker, with five titles each.