Chris Kirk has not won a golf tournament since the 2015 Dean & DeLuca Invitational. He has a chance to reverse that this week at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. Kirk shot an 8-under 63 on Thursday in the first round in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Maybe we should have seen this coming. Kirk already has nearly as many top 10s this fall (2) in three events as he has had since that last win at Colonial (3). He was lights out on Thursday with a clean card that included 10 pars, eight birdies and nothing else.
He leads by one over Ben Crane, Gary Woodland and Camilo Villegas.
Another golfer chasing Kirk is Webb Simpson at 6 under which left him two back of the lead. Simpson spoke afterward about how Graeme McDowell won this tournament last season.
"I would see why Graeme would win here," said Simpson. "You've got to hit it straight and he drives it pretty straight. It's a good start for me but three more days to go."
That could be a problem for the leader Kirk who does not traditionally rank in the top 50 on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy. Of course he got away with it on Thursday as he ranked T37 in the field in fairways hit but still shot a 63.
He makes his bones in the ball-striking arena and did so again on Thursday when he hit 78 percent of greens in regulation and made enough putts to lead.
The bad news for Kirk (but good news for us) is who's chasing him. It's not exactly a bunch of nobodies. Villegas, Woodland, Crane and Simpson are all within two shots and all have multiple PGA Tour wins. It's actually a pretty impressive top of the leaderboard considering the tournament and time of year we're in.
So we will see Friday whether Kirk can set himself up for a great weekend finish. It's off to a great start, and either way he will clearly have momentum going into 2017 as he's vying for what would be a third top 10 in his last four events.