The wait is finally over for Chris Kirk.
Kirk rode a second-round 62 into the weekend, slept on a two-shot, 54-hole lead Saturday night and survived a playoff with rookie Eric Cole to win for the fifth time on the PGA Tour and first in eight years.
In his 179th start, Kirk claimed his first win since the 2015 Charles Schwab Challenge and secured an invitation to the Masters Tournament.
But it wasn’t without a rollercoaster of emotions on the final hole. Facing a second shot from the fairway from 257 yards out, Kirk pushed his ball right and could only watch as it bounced off the retaining wall and came splashing down close the blue Honda SUV that floats in the water at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
After a drop and a wedge on, Kirk two-putted the par-5 last for a 69.
Meanwhile, Cole missed the 18th green long and left, overcooked a chip all the way across the green for his third before salvaging par to force the extra golf.
They replayed 18 again, and with his third shot using a 60-degree wedge, Kirk stuffed his approach, spinning it back to with a foot.
Cole’s third shot was from the bunker behind the green and he left it about 10 feet to the right of the hole. Needing to make birdie, his putt lipped out on the left side. Kirk then tapped in his birdie putt to claim the win.
Earlier in the day, Cole had the shot of the day, and claimed a share of the lead, after draining a 70-foot double-breaking putt on the par-3 fifth hole.
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/vtXh7q8tbf
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 26, 2023
Earlier this year Kirk finished T-3 at the Sony Open in Hawaii and solo third at the American Express.
Tyler Duncan was solo third at 12 under. Monday qualifier Ryan Gerard was solo fourth at 10 under, earning a spot in the opposite-field Puerto Rico Open next week. The Arnold Palmer Invitational, a designated event, is also next week in Orlando.