Chris Kirk barely had enough to hold off Sahith Theegala.
The 38-year-old Kirk shot a bogey-free, eight-under-par 65 to edge Theegala by one stroke in the 71st edition of The Sentry on the Plantation Course at Kapalua on the Hawaiian island of Maui to open the 2024 PGA Tour season.
“I’m so thankful for these last five years; it’s been incredible,” said Kirk, who has overcome alcoholism and depression during that time. “I’m enjoying competing, I’m enjoying the work. I didn’t have that for a while. It’s a constant process.
“I just kind of kept reminding myself of no matter how I felt, no matter how nervous I was, there was nothing really stopping me from hitting great shots, hitting great putts. And I was able to kind of remind myself of that before every shot, and that one on No. 17, I’ll remember for a long time.
“I’m just loving every minute of it, and I haven’t had that for a while.”
Kirk, who claimed his sixth PGA Tour victory and ninth as pro after winning the Honda Classic last season for his first victory in eight years, collected eight birdies in the last round including a three-footer on No. 17 after a brilliant approach shot from 209 yards while recording a winning score of 29-under-par 263.
Theegala, from Chino Hills and Pepperdine, made five birdies on each nine in a bogey-free 63 to fall just short after being the first-round leader at 64.
“I played great, but just fell short,” said Theegala, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2023 Fortinet Championship on the North Course at Silverado Resort in Napa.
Theegala made five birdies on each nine in his bogey-free 63, but missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole that would have forced a playoff with Kirk.
Jordan Spieth, the 2016 Sentry champion, closed with a 65 that included nine birdies and a lone bogey at No. 16 to finish two shots behind in a tie for third with Byeong Hun An of South Korea, who eagled the 15th hole and had four late birdies in a 68.
Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler made an early bogey but followed with eight birdies in a 66 to wind up four down in a tie for fifth with ninth-ranked Brian Harman, who eagled the fifth and 14th holes in a 64; Sungjae Im of South Korea, who had 11 birdies in a 63; Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, who made six birdies on the back nine in a 65, and J.T. Poston, who eagled No. 15 and had seven birdies in another 65.
Sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State eagled the final hole to complete a bogey-free 64 and finished five strokes behind in a tie for 10th with Jason Day of Australia, who had four birdies on each nine in a 67.
Fifth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA birdied three of the last five holes for a 67 to tie for 12th, while seventh-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal carded a bogey-free 66 to finish in a tie for 14th that included eighth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, who posted another bogey-free 66, and 2023 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Eric Cole of Pal Springs, who had six birdies on the back nine in a 65.
Fourth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway, the reigning FedEx up champion, birdied two of the last four holes for a 67 to tie for 22nd, and 10th-ranked Wyndham Clark, the 2023 U.S. Open champion, shot a bogey-free 63 with an eagle on the fifth hole to tie for 29th.
The PGA Tour’s new season will continue on Thursday this week with the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, where Si-Woo Kim of South Korea will be the defending champion.
For complete results, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard