Kirk battles, takes 2-shot lead into final round at Honda

Feb 25, 2023, 1:00 AM | Updated: 3:24 pm

Charles Kirk hits from a bunker onto the sixth green during the third round of the Honda Classic go...

Charles Kirk hits from a bunker onto the sixth green during the third round of the Honda Classic golf tournament, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Chris Kirk’s last win on the PGA Tour was nearly eight years ago. He’s put himself in a position to change that at the Honda Classic.

Kirk battled his way to a 4-under round of 66 on Saturday, putting him at 13-under 197 for the week and giving him a two-shot lead over Eric Cole (66) through three rounds at PGA National.

His last win on tour was at Colonial in 2015 — 180 tournaments ago. He’s a four-time winner on tour, played in the Presidents Cup in 2015, and has been waiting to hoist a trophy again since.

Kirk made a wild birdie on the last, after his second shot on the par-5 18th wound up next to the grandstand and underneath someone’s bag that was left against structure. He got a drop, chipped on from there and made the putt to restore a two-shot lead.

And now he has a chance to be a winner again — with most of the players nearest to him on the leaderboard looking for their first tour wins.

“It’s been so long since I’ve won,” Kirk said. “I’m going to be plenty nervous, just as nervous as those guys are probably.”

Cole stayed in the mix with his second consecutive round of 66.

“It’s awesome,” Cole said. “I’ve never played this event before. Tried to qualify a bunch of times … I’m enjoying every minute of it.”

Justin Suh holed out from the fairway for an eagle on the par-4 12th, and is alone in third at 10 under. He shot even-par 70 on Saturday.

Shane Lowry (65) is 9 under, and right in the mix after having a chance to win the Honda last year until the 72nd hole. He’s tied with Ben Taylor (69).

“If I can just hang around all day, hopefully I can give myself a chance coming down the stretch,” Lowry said. “I think I did what I needed to do today.”

Among those lurking: defending champion Sepp Straka, who followed opening rounds of 69 and 68 with a 66 on Saturday. He’s 7 under for the week, six shots back. It was Straka’s sixth consecutive round in the 60’s at PGA National.

“It’s a tough test, but if you’re hitting it good, you can score,” Straka said.

Straka went to Georgia, as did Kirk. When Straka got his first win at Honda a year ago, Kirk was one of the players who braved an intense rainstorm to congratulate Straka when it was over.

“We stay together all the time. He’s usually the guy that gets us a house,” Straka said. “I’ve gotten to know Chris very well over the last few years, one of my best friends. He’s been playing great golf for a couple years now. It’s not surprising to me, especially around this course.”

Sunday is a big day for two players with a shot of qualifying for The Players Championship by getting into the top 50 in the world. Min Woo Lee struggled to a 73 on Saturday and is tied for 58th at even par through 54 holes; Adrian Meronk is tied for 20th at 4 under.

Lee started the week No. 47; Meronk started No. 53.

DIVOTS: Ryan Brehm (64) made a big move Saturday, starting the round tied for 60th and finishing tied for 15th at 5-under 205. … Akshay Bhatia needed a new outfit after playing a ball from the water. He went shirtless for the shot – one of two shirtless escapades during his round — getting covered in mud, and his girlfriend brought him a change of clothes. “It was really gross. Really, really gross,” Bhatia said.


AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Kirk battles, takes 2-shot lead into final round at Honda