KAPALUA, Hawaii — Chris Kirk had to play as a single in the first round after playing partner and good friend Lucas Glover pulled out prior to their tee time with a knee injury.
Things didn’t go too well for Kirk, as he shot a 2-over 75.
For Saturday’s second round, Kirk had a playing partner. Jhonattan Vegas.
The result for Kirk? Much better — a 7-under 66 which moved him onto the first page of the leaderboard, albeit 10 shots behind leader Steve Stricker, who’s at 15 under.
"I don’t want to put too much blame on having to play by myself yesterday," Kirk said, "but that definitely threw my rhythm off a little bit, being in a single amongst a bunch of twosomes."
Because the first-round tee times were already set prior to Glover’s decision not to play, Kirk could not be moved to the front of the line of the 27-man field. With the pairings reshuffled for Saturday, David Toms was the single who went out in the first group, and he took just three hours to finish his round.
"I ended up waiting a lot," Kirk said. "Just waiting in general kind of throws you off your normal rhythm."
Kirk said the difference in his game from Friday to Saturday had nothing to do with any adjustments in his swing. He just felt better. The fact he produced one of just three bogey-free rounds on the day (Stricker and Jonathan Byrd had the other two) is a testament to just feeling in control.
His only glitch came on the par-5 18th when he failed to birdie after driving the green in two. He ended up three-putting from 38 feet.
"It definitely stinks to finish up a round like that," Kirk said. "Still, if you told me I was going to have 7 under at the start of the day, I would’ve taken it."