Chris Kirk edged out rookie Eric Cole in a back-and-forth day at PGA National to claim the Honda Classic title.
After beginning the final round two shots ahead of Cole, Kirk got off to the perfect start with a birdie on the first. His joy was tempered soon after, though. After finding the trees with his tee shot on the second he eventually settled for bogey as Cole moved within one of the lead courtesy of his two pars to begin the day.
The two then birdied the third, but significantly, it was the first of a trio in succession for Cole, which included an incredible 70-foot putt on the fifth, to join Kirk at the top of the leaderboard.
70-footer to tie the lead! 🔥 34-year-old rookie Eric Cole joins Chris Kirk at the top of the leaderboard @TheHondaClassic. pic.twitter.com/vtXh7q8tbfFebruary 26, 2023
After the next hole, Kirk had the lead to himself again following Cole’s first bogey of the day, and things got even better for Kirk when he birdied the eighth as his rival could only make par.
He wasn’t able to feel comfortable for long. On the 11th, a 13-foot putt moved Cole to within one, and he found himself in front after the 13th, when another assured putt gave him a birdie as Kirk faltered with his second bogey after finding the rough with his tee shot.
There was another twist two holes later, as Cole could only manage a bogey after needing two shots to get out of the bunker. With the lead now tied once again, Kirk nudged back ahead on the 16th after draining his 18-foot putt.
However, just when it looked as though he would close out the win, disaster struck for Kirk when his approach found the water on the 18th. He could only manage a bogey while a par was enough for Cole to force a playoff.
Playing the par 5 18th again, Kirk found the rough from his tee shot, while Cole reached the fairway. However, Kirk’s second shot was good, leaving him 108 yards from the hole.
It wasn’t so encouraging for Cole, who found the bunker at the back of the green. A delighful approach left Kirk just 16in from the hole, and he wasn’t going to miss from there, meaning that Cole, after finding the green with his third shot, needed a birdie from 10 feet. It lipped out, leaving Kirk to claim his first title since the 2015 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
Afterwards, a relieved Kirk said: “I just fought really, really hard today. I didn’t play my absolute best, but I never gave up. I heard Paul Azinger say, I watched a highlight of me yesterday, and he…
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Golf Monthly RSS Feed…