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Chris Kirk, with hand healing, hopes to repeat Deutsche Bank victory

By Tom Layman
Published on

Summer, in an ideal world, is all about hanging at home with the family, kicking back and relaxing until "real life" begins in the fall.

Sounds perfect for the regular folks with 9-to-5 jobs who have a hard time getting work done while the nice weather draws their attention away from the task at hand.

It's not ideal for a professional golfer.

That's what Chris Kirk, the defending champion of the Deutsche Bank Championship, has had to deal with this year.

TEE TIMES: Deutsche Bank Championship

Kirk broke his right hand in June when he fell while playing with his kids in the backyard. The injury wiped out six weeks of his tour schedule.

"I was chasing my kids around in the yard," Kirk said. "My feet basically went out from under me and kind of reaching my hand back a little bit, just landed not very good on it and cracked the last metacarpal about midway on my right hand.

"It wasn't a really bad break or anything like that, it wasn't displaced or anything."

It was enough to keep him from playing golf until last week in the first tournament of the FedExCup playoffs. Kirk was playing solid golf before the injury, winning his only tournament of the year at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. That win helped get the 30-year-old in the field of 99 this week at TPC Boston because he played in the U.S. Open in June and didn't return to competitive golf for two months.

Kirk missed the cut last week at the Barclays after a first-round 76, and is currently 39th in the FedExCup standings.

"I didn't play as well as I would have liked," Kirk said. "But it was nice just getting back out there and knocking a little bit of rust off. Most importantly my hand felt great."

Kirk received treatment at the University of Georgia near his home in Athens and was in physical therapy about a week and a half after the fall happened. He was cleared to play and practice fully a few weeks before the Barclays, but chose to continue to rest until he felt no pain in his hand.

"I waited long enough where it didn't hurt me to hit balls," Kirk said. "The first day or two coming back hitting balls on the range there is a little bit of just getting yourself to trust it and go ahead and swing full, through down into the ground, and trust that it's not going to hurt."

If comfort in the hand is OK for him now, then comfort at TPC Boston is certainly there as well. Kirk finished off his Deutsche Bank win last year with a bogey-free, 5-under 66 to edge Geoff Ogilvy, Billy Horschel and Russell Henley by two strokes.

He was 14-under in his last 37 holes a year ago and really opened eyes with his putting. Even with the recent injury, he was able to take the splint off his hand early and putt whenever he felt comfortable. That gives him hope that he finds the stroke that made him a champion here a year ago, even if he didn't see that guy last week at the Barclays.

Kirk opens defense of his title Friday, when he steps to the 10th tee with playing partners Webb Simpson and Louis Oosthuizen at 1:04 p.m.

"This has been one of my favorite tournaments of the year," Kirk said. "I've always loved the golf course."

This article was written by Tom Layman from Boston Herald and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.