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Kirk Takes Deutsche Bank Championship
Chris Kirk logged the biggest victory of career on Monday. The 29-year-old closed with a 5-under 66 to win the Deutsche Bank Championship. The $8 million tournament - the second of four events in the PGA Tour's season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs - took place at TPC Boston.
Kirk's previous two titles came in the 2011 Viking Classic and last year's McGladrey Classic. But on Labor Day, he managed to overcome a two-stroke deficit to 54-hole leader and fellow former Georgia Bulldog Russell Henley with five birdies and a clutch par on the last to end up at 15-under 269, two strokes clear of Geoff Ogilvy (65), Billy Horschel (70) and Henley (70).
Playing in the next-to-last group, Kirk secured the victory on the par-5 18th after a bad drive and a lay-up. In the final group, Horschel bombed his drive and had 215 yards in for possible tying eagle. But the 27-year-old Floridian miss-hit his approach shot into the hazard fronting the green, giving the Deutsche Bank Championship and $1.144 million winner's check to Kirk, while dropping him into a tie for second.
"I tried to play like I did (Sunday)," Kirk said at greenside about the third-round 64 that brought him into contention. "Obviously, this is the biggest win of my career."
Though he evinces a serene demeanor on the course, the lanky Kirk noted there's a lot going underneath the surface. "I may be a little bit more calm, but I was still freaking out a bit inside," he said of the final stretch at TPC Boston.
It also vaulted Kirk into consideration as one of Tom Watson's three captain's picks for the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team. "I definitely put myself in contention for one," Kirk said. "If I get picked great. If not, I'm still happy with my win today."
In addition to the biggest payday of his career, Kirk earned 2,500 FedEx Cup points to leap to the front of the Playoffs. In second and third are Rory McIlroy and The Barclays' champion Hunter Mahan.
Horschel was visibly disappointed in how he played the final hole after being in control with three birdies through 17. "It was the worst swing I made all weekend, unfortunately. I played really well today. The only bogey I made all day was on the 18th."
Then the 2013 Zurich Classic winner added, "You always got to look at the bright side. There were a lot of positives this week."
Finishing four strokes behind Kirk were McIlroy, who closed with a 70, and Australia's John Senden (66). McIlroy, the top-ranked player in golf with two majors this year, posted five birdies and four bogeys.
Sharing seventh at 10-under 274 were Aussie Jason Day (71) and 2014 U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer (67). Tied for ninth at 9-under were Sweden's Carl Pettersson (66), South Korean Seung-Yul Noh (70), and Americans Jimmy Walker (67), Robert Streb (68), Bill Haas (69), Chesson Hadley (69) and Webb Simpson (71).
The top-70 players in the FedEx Cup move on to next week's BMW Championship, which starts Thursday at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado.
Jerry Kelly eagled the 18th to take the 70th and final spot, bumping Streb to 71st and out of the Playoffs. Phil Mickelson closed with a 67 and, along with defending FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson, also booked his ticket to Colorado.
Only the top-30 players after the BMW Championship will gain a spot in the Playoffs' concluding Tour Championship. The overall Cup winner earns an annuity of $10 million.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html. For the updated FedEx Cup standings, visit http://www.pgatour.com/fedexcup/projected-standings.html.