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Kirk earns maiden PGA triumph in Viking Classic

ESPN staff
July 17, 2011 « Soderling crushes Ferrer for victory on home turf | Chartbeat test »
Chris Kirk putted superbly on the final day © Getty Images
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American Chris Kirk recorded his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday, winning a well-contested Viking Classic by one stroke.

Kirk, who turned pro in 2007, had previously only reached as high as second place in a PGA event, losing out to Phil Mickelson at the Shell Houston Open. However, at the Annandale Golf Club he saw off the challenges of Tom Pernice Jr and George McNeill to end his drought.

The 26-year-old carded a four-under-par final round of 68 to finish on 22-under, after four days of high scoring. Victory earns him a handsome $648,000 first prize.

Bogeys at eight and 14 threatened to cost Kirk his maiden triumph, but his inaccuracies when approaching the greens were counter-balanced by his putting when on them, requiring 26 swings of the flat stick en route to victory.

Pernice Jr and McNeill pushed Kirk all the way, but a birdie at the 17th proved decisive. Pernice Jr had signed for the best score of the trio on the final day (67), but it was only enough for a share of second place.

A further three players were level on 20-under in an American-dominated event. Bud Cauley, Hunter Haas and Jim Renner all finished two strokes off the pace, having all posted 68s.

Elsewhere, Australia Steven Bowditch produced the round of the day with a 10-under 62, which lifted him to 15-under. Bowditch hit eight birdies and an eagle as he torched the hospitable course, requiring just 23 putts for a share of 18th.

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