'Incredible' Atlanta homecoming for FedExCup leader Kirk

Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:11pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

ATLANTA (Reuters) - American Chris Kirk could not have scripted it any better as he heads into this week's Tour Championship finale atop the FedExCup standings, in prime position to clinch overall playoff honors in his home town.

The 29-year-old Atlanta native won his second PGA Tour title of the season at the best possible time, clinching the second of four playoff events earlier this month to vault to the top of the FedExCup point list.

Kirk maintained that position by tying for 36th at the BMW Championship on Sunday and is one of only five players in this week's elite field of 29 who is automatically guaranteed the overall playoff prize by winning the Tour Championship.

"Obviously it's more than I could have ever expected or really hoped for coming into this tournament," Kirk told reporters at East Lake Golf Club on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's opening round.

"Being an Atlanta guy, growing up in Atlanta, living in Atlanta, and just being here this week is a huge accomplishment for me. Being No. 1 (in the standings) is just incredible.

"So I'm hoping I can play really well this week and give it my best shot to stay there."

Any of the top five in the points standings would clinch the FedExCup by winning the Tour Championship - and that quintet comprises Kirk, Billy Horschel (second), Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy (fourth) and Hunter Mahan (fifth).

Asked whether he left any added pressure by being the marked man on top of the FedExCup points list going into the PGA Tour's season-ending event, Kirk replied: "I don't really think it brings that much pressure at all.   Continued...

Sep 5, 2014; Cherry Hills Village, CO, USA; Chris Kirk drives from the 4th fairway during the second round of the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports