Rogash/Getty ImagesChris Kirk won the Viking Classic in 2011.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. — Chris Kirk has adopted a go-for-broke attitude for the FedExCup Playoffs and it appears to be paying off.
He entered the Deutsche Bank Championship ranked 81st and needs a big week in order to move into the top 70 and make the field for the BMW Championship. Kirk got off to the kind of good start he needed, too, when he fired a 63 that left the Georgia grad one shot off Seung-yul Noh’s lead.
Obviously, 54 holes remain. But when the first round was finished, Kirk was projected at No. 9 in the FedExCup standings.
"I came in at 33rd last year and probably put a little too much pressure on myself," said Kirk, who finished the Playoffs in 2011 ranked 42nd. "But this year halfway through the season I was about 130th, so I played pretty well the few months before they started just to get in here, so I kind of just see it all as a bonus, however far I manage to make it."
Kirk started on the back nine and bogeyed No. 11 but answered with consecutive birdies and never looked back. The catalyst in the round was a 9-foot eagle putt at the 18th hole that was followed by birdie putts of 20 and 7 feet on the next two holes.
"That was huge for me, kind of scraping it around a little bit, kind of getting away with a few things and making some putts my first eight holes and I really made a good swing with my tee shot on 18 and even better swing on my second shot, and that kind of propelled me to playing a really solid nine," Kirk said.
Kirk ended the day with just 23 putts to lead the field in that category. The last was a clutch 12-footer to save par at the ninth hole and preserve sole possession of second place.
"I thought I hit a pretty nice second shot in there, but having to hook it around those trees it just landed a little hot and didn’t hit a great chip, but making that putt definitely makes me feel a little better," Kirk said. "I’ve putted reasonably well for the last few months. It wasn’t great last week, but these greens are just so perfect here, if you hit it on line, it’s going to go in. So that kind of gives me a lot of confidence."