November 10 2013
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Every single golfer who has ever teed it up has experienced frustration at some point. It happened to Chris Kirk in the final round on the par-5 15th hole. He was coming off his first bogey in 19 holes at the 14th and sniped his second shot into a hazard left of the green. Kirk took his drop and then tomahawked the head of his wedge into the soft ground, leaving it there for his caddie to retrieve. That’s not the best of form but it might have released a little tension. Kirk seemed calmer when he reached the green and promptly made his 20-foot par putt while a rattled Briny Baird missed his four-footer. What could have been, maybe should have been, a two-shot swing resulted in no shots lost for Kirk.
Compassion: It is so hard to win on the PGA TOUR, for Baird to lose with his only bogey of the day, on his final hole, is terribly disheartening. After driving into a fairway bunker, from a bad lie and awkward stance, Baird topped his approach into the hazard. Every week there are dozens of shots that determine a winner. A missed putt on Thursday counts just as much as a miss on Sunday. However, we always remember shots down the stretch of tournaments and Baird’s mistake on the 18th hole will stick in everyone’s mind. Perhaps just as key was the 15th hole. Baird had a three-putt par, missing a four-footer for birdie that would have been a two shot lead.
Opportunity: Tim Clark led the tournament with 20 birdies but it was an opportunity lost at the 15th hole that might have cost him his second PGA TOUR title. Clark hit the par 5 in two shots and then three-putted for par from 70 feet. The 15th was problematic for Clark the entire week. He averaged just 259 yards per drive during the tournament and parred the 15th hole in every round.
Hip work: Chris Kirk looked locked in with five holes to play and then he got a case of the "lefts." Kirk hooked his drive into a hazard at the 14th and then hooked an approach into the hazard on the 15th. Kirk stopped working his hips and turning through the ball. Golf is a game of opposites and when a player stops turning his hips through the shot, the ball turns further to the left. Credit to Kirk for making the mid-round correction.
Setup: Baird has a couple unique aspects with his swing. He sets up with his weight noticeably shifted to his left side and he hovers his driver just above the ground before starting the swing. The weight on his left foot keeps him from swaying off the ball while hovering the driver promotes a smooth takeaway.
Pure class: Clark has battled injuries throughout his career and has just a single PGA TOUR win. It would be understandable if the South African was frustrated followed his second place finish. Instead, when asked if he thought his 13 under finish would be enough to win, Clark said he doubted it would hold then added he understood what Baird had gone though with injury recovery and that if Briny won the tournament, it would not bother him in the least.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.