Kirk shot a second-round 72 Friday for a two-day total of 3-over par 147, which leaves him in a nine-way tie for 37th place, 10 shots behind tournament leader and fellow Georgia alum Bubba Watson.
“I’m definitely very proud to have (made the cut),” Kirk, the Etowah High School product, said. “And I feel like I did it without my best stuff. That makes me feel really good about my game, for sure, to feel like I just played OK for a couple of days, yet I’m still hanging around.”
Kirk will tee off at 11:05 a.m. today, playing alongside Germany’s Martin Kaymer, winner of the 2010 PGA Championship and a former world No. 1.
The inconsistencies and poor shots at the wrong time Kirk described after finishing bogey-bogey on Nos. 17 and 18 Thursday were still there Friday, but his putter made up for them.
Kirk made six putts of 10 feet or longer on the back nine, including par putts of 15 feet on No. 12 and 20 feet on No. 14, that helped carry him to his 15th consecutive made cut. Kirk was 4-over when he reached the 12th hole, and knowing the cut line was hovering near 4-over, he gave a big sigh of relief when the putt went in.
“To make that putt definitely was great to keep the momentum going.” Kirk said. “I had a run of really good putts there. A 10-footer for birdie on 13 and then a 20-footer for par on 14, followed by a tough 10-foot downhill slider for birdie on 15 — so, yeah, making those putts in the middle of the back nine definitely got me through.”
Kirk finished his round mid-afternoon and gradually continued to climb up the leaderboard as the wind blew and continued to dry the greens out. He expects more of the same today.
“I hit what I thought was a perfect shot on 17 and landed at the very crest of the hill, right where you would want it to, probably 20 or 25 feet short of the hole with a pretty high 8-iron, and it still ran off the back.”
Kirk started the day knowing he needed to play well to make the cut, but he opened the round with bogey at the par-4 first. That began a roller-coaster ride through the front nine, where he offset three bogeys with birdies on the par-5 second and eighth holes. After making the turn at 4-over — 1-over for the day — Kirk’s putter woke up on No. 10, where he made a 30-footer for a birdie.
“I made that long putt, and it really got me going on the back nine,” he said.