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Chris Kirk stays cool, calm and consistent in winning The Sentry by 1

Jan. 8—Chris Kirk wants to savor this moment for a couple of days.

KAPALUA, Maui—Chris Kirk wants to savor this moment for a couple of days.

Then he'll start thinking about what it might take to achieve something only Ernie Els and Justin Thomas have done.

The veteran completed a sustained, masterful display Sunday, four rounds of poker-face intensity and consistency at the Plantation Course at Kapalua. Kirk, 38, was best among the 59 of the PGA's top achievers of 2023 at keeping his foot on the gas but his car on the track throughout this mostly wind-free first week of the PGA Tour season.

His 8 under par final round secured victory at The Sentry at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, and the $3.6 million prize that goes with it. Kirk was strong and steady throughout the tournament, shooting from 6 to 8 under in all four rounds with 67-65-66-65 for a total of 29 under.

He didn't lead wire-to-wire and he didn't run away with it, but Kirk never went off the rails. He opened his season with 30 birdies and just one bogey.

No eagles, but Kirk was a nearly flawless machine, and at his best when he needed it most. He set himself up on No. 17 with a 5-iron approach shot that left him a four-footer for his eighth and final birdie of the round. It proved to be the decisive shot for the now six-time winner on the PGA Tour.

Whether he can complete a same-year Aloha Sweep like Els in 2003 or Thomas in 2017 is something Kirk will ponder starting around Wednesday. But his history at the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club indicates that it is far from impossible.

"My mind needs a little break at the moment, I would say. I'll take tomorrow off and maybe even Tuesday off as well, just to try to kind of decompress a little bit, " Kirk said. "But Waialae's a golf course that I've played so many times and I'm so comfortable on and just really enjoy playing the golf course."

Kirk was third at Waialae last year behind winner Si Woo Kim and Hayden Buckley, after Kirk held at least a share of the lead at the end of the first two rounds. It was one of four top fives in his 13 Sony Open appearances.

"Thankfully, it's a little easier walk than Kapalua around there, " Kirk said.

He added that he won't be starting at 21 under and atop the leaderboard at Waialae, like he did here Sunday.

"That's another incredible thing about our sport, " he said. "When I tee off on Thursday, what I did this week doesn't matter anymore, it's all square, and the gun goes off and we try to do it all over again."

Kirk got going early Sunday, humming along at 4 under for the day after seven holes and widening his lead to three shots. His playing partners, Akshay Bhatia and Xavier Shauffele, started the round one and two shots behind Kirk, but neither got going enough to pose a threat.

But there were plenty of other challengers.

Jason Day made an early run, and was also 4 under for the round until a double-bogey 5 at No. 8 knocked him out of the hunt. Adam Hadwin took his shot, too, 8 under after 15 holes positioned him at-21 and striking range. But he ran out of holes.

First-round leader Sahith Theegala started Sunday three off the pace, and among many with a realistic chance to catch Kirk given the light winds. He and Jordan Spieth gave chase, and both were tied with Kirk for the lead at 27 under with a few holes left. Theegala even held the lead for brief moments.

But a bogey on No. 16 took Spieth out of contention. And when Theegala's birdie try at 18 went around the rim, but spun out of the cup, his fate—second place—was all but decided.

"You knew that guys were going to go low, you knew there was going to be a ton of looks today, it was just so calm, " said Theegala, who was among three players to shoot 10 under on the day. "So, it was a little bit of just staying patient on the putts. ... Chris hit an incredible shot on 17 there, and then if we were tied or if I was at 29, I think he would probably pulls off a birdie there (at 18 ) as well."

The lack of strong wind confirmed for Kirk before he even started that the final round would be no simple victory lap.

"When I saw how calm it was, getting out to the golf course, getting out and starting my warm-up and everything, you just know there's that kind of group of players not that far behind you, and ... all right, somebody's probably going to shoot 10 under, somebody always does out here pretty much, on a calm day anyways, " he said. "I'm just thankful that Sahith shot 10 and not 11 under today.

"It's never easy playing Sunday with a lead, but it's kind of easier a little bit mentally when you know, like, all right, yeah, I'm in the lead, but I probably won't be by the time I tee off, and then if I make three pars in a row I'm definitely not going to be anymore. So you got to keep the pedal to the metal."

THE SENTRY SCORES Sunday's final round At The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort ; Kapalua, Maui Purse : $20 million. Yardage : 7, 596 ; Par : 73 Chris Kirk (700 ), $3, 600, 000 ....................................67-65-66-65—263 Sahith Theegala (400 ), $2, 160, 000 ......................64-69-68-63—264 Jordan Spieth (350 ), $1, 360, 000 ...........................66-67-67-65—265 Byeong Hun An (325 ), $975, 000 ..........................68-64-68-66—266 Brian Harman (250 ), $690, 500 ...............................67-66-70-64—267 Sungjae Im (250 ), $690, 500 ....................................65-66-73-63—267 Collin Morikawa (250 ), $690, 500 ........................... 65-67-70-65—267 J.T. Poston (250 ), $690, 500 ....................................68-68-66-65—267 Scottie Scheffler (250 ), $690, 500 ........................ 66-64-71-66—267 Jason Day (170 ), $530, 000 ......................................65-69-67-67—268 Xander Schauffele (170 ), $530, 000 ......................66-69-65-68—268 Patrick Cantlay (150 ), $450, 000 ............................66-68-68-67—269 Sepp Straka (150 ), $450, 000 .................................67-66-70-66—269 Akshay Bhatia (113 ), $320, 250 ............................. 69-64-66-71—270 Eric Cole (113 ), $320, 250 ....................................... 70-66-69-65—270 Harris English (113 ), $320, 250 ..............................71-66-64-69—270 Matt Fitzpatrick (113 ), $320, 250 ............................69-64-69-68—270 Adam Hadwin (113 ), $320, 250 ..............................70-66-70-64—270 Tyrrell Hatton (113 ), $320, 250 .................................69-62-72-67—270 Max Homa (113 ), $320, 250 .....................................67-69-68-66—270 Patrick Rodgers (113 ), $320, 250 ...........................69-65-70-66—270 Viktor Hovland (85 ), $220, 000 ..................................65-67-72-67—271 Luke List (85 ), $220, 000 ...........................................67-70-68-66—271 Erik Van Rooyen (85 ), $220, 000 ............................ 72-65-69-65—271 Nicolas Echavarria (68 ), $170, 750 .......................... 70-67-68-67—272 Mackenzie Hughes (68 ), $170, 750 ........................68-70-70-64—272 Si Woo Kim (68 ), $170, 750 ......................................70-66-70-66—272 Taylor Moore (68 ), $170, 750 ....................................71-65-70-66—272 Wyndham Clark (48 ), $140, 500 .............................71-68-71-63—273 Lucas Glover (48 ), $140, 500 ...................................72-66-68-67—273 Kurt Kitayama (48 ), $140, 500 ..................................72-64-71-66—273 Adam Schenk (48 ), $140, 500 .................................69-65-70-69—273 Sam Burns (27 ), $113, 000 ......................................69-68-68-69—274 Corey Conners (27 ), $113, 000 ............................... 69-70-68-67—274 Adam Svensson (27 ), $113, 000 .............................70-68-68-68—274 Brendon Todd (27 ), $113, 000 ..................................67-64-73-70—274 Cameron Young (27 ), $113, 000 ..............................68-67-74-65—274 Tony Finau (22 ), $96, 000 ..........................................69-66-71-69—275 Tom Hoge (22 ), $96, 000 ...........................................67-69-71-68—275 Andrew Putnam (20 ), $86, 000 ................................ 74-71-67-64—276 Justin Rose (20 ), $86, 000 .........................................71-69-75-61—276 Matt Wallace (20 ), $86, 000 ......................................68-70-69-69—276 Emiliano Grillo (18 ), $76, 000 ....................................66-68-72-71—277 Denny McCarthy (18 ), $76, 000 ...............................70-69-71-67—277 Keegan Bradley (16 ), $68, 000 ..................................69-70-72-67—278 Tom Kim (16 ), $68, 000 ............................................... 68-70-74-66—278 Ludvig Aberg (14 ), $62, 000 ......................................69-70-77-63—279 Tommy Fleetwood (14 ), $62, 000 .............................70-70-69-70—279 Nick Hardy (14 ), $62, 000 ..........................................71-67-75-66—279 Seamus Power (13 ), $57, 500 ...................................71-71-71-67—280 Camilo Villegas (13 ), $57, 500 ....................................65-71-74-70—280 Cameron Davis (11 ), $54, 500 .................................75-68-73-65—281 Russell Henley (11 ), $54, 500 ..................................69-72-72-68—281 Davis Riley (11 ), $54, 500 ..........................................70-71-76-64—281 Nick Taylor (11 ), $54, 500 ..........................................69-69-73-70—281 Rickie Fowler (10 ), $52, 000 ......................................70-67-75-70—282 Lee Hodges (10 ), $51, 000 .......................................72-65-77-69—283 Hideki Matsuyama (9 ), $50, 500 ............................. 71-68-76-69—284 Vincent Norrman (9 ), $50, 000 .................................. 73-70-74-69—286