FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — Chris Kirk shot a 6-under 64 in the final round to win the Fort Smith Classic on Sunday.
Kirk finished with a 16-under 264 at the 6,783-yard Hardscrabble Country Club course. He made par on each of his final three holes to win his first tournament as a professional and take over the top spot on the Nationwide Tour’s money list. He also secured his spot on the PGA Tour next year.
“This is sort of a lot of goals in one day for me,” Kirk said. “I wanted to get my first win on the Nationwide Tour, secure my tour card for next year and go to No. 1 on the money list. It was at times a little difficult to keep those thoughts out of my head but to be able to secure all three of those after one round of golf is pretty fulfilling.”
Kirk had to hold off a late rally by Kyle Thompson (63). Thompson finished the tournament at 15 under and tied for the final round’s best score. Thompson briefly tied Kirk with a birdie putt on No. 18, but Kirk responded moments later with a birdie of his own on the par-3 15th.
“I didn’t know what Kyle was doing but I had this thought in my head that if I could get to 16 under no one could catch me because I had more holes to play,” Kirk said. “That was the number I put in my head coming in and thankfully I was able to get there and stay there.”
Arkansan John Daly (69) finished tied for 22nd at 8 under in his first Nationwide event since 1991. He is from Dardanelle, about 75 miles from Fort Smith, and organizers were hoping his presence could help this struggling tournament find a title sponsor so it can remain viable.
The two-time major champion finished all four rounds under par.
“I had some chances but missed five or six short attempts for birdies today,” Daly said. “The good news is I gave myself a shot at it. I just couldn’t make enough putts today.”