In an interview with the PGA Tour, Chris Kirk spoke on the reason behind his absence from golf. He didn’t hold back either.
I've interviewed a lot of athletes over the years but few were as open and honest as Chris Kirk was when he told me about the day he quit drinking. Thanks for letting me share your story. https://t.co/dEvM9WOwBa
— helen ross (@helen_pgatour) November 6, 2019
“I have dealt with alcohol abuse and depression for some time now. I thought I could control it, but after multiple relapses I have come to realize that I can’t fix this on my own. I will be taking an indefinite leave from the PGA Tour to deal with these issues. I don’t know when I will be back, but for now I need my full focus on being the man my family deserves. Thank you for the support,” Kirk wrote in his statement last May.
Now, Kirk is set to return at the Mayakoba Golf Classic at El Camaleon Golf Club.
It was a long road between calling it quits for a while to focus on himself and starting in a PGA Tour event though.
After a long night out on April 29, 2019 in New Orleans, Kirk woke up hungover. Wearing the same clothes he was wearing the night before, Kirk finally realized that he had to do something with himself. He called his agent and a few other friends and told them exactly what he was going to do.
“This may sound crazy,” Kirk told them, “But I feel like if I am going to get better, this is what I have to do. I cannot play anymore. I have to be at home, and I have got to put all of my focus into this.” Kirk said he remembers all that happening on that exact day.
That is a day that is definitely stuck in my mind and will be for a long time.”
With the help of support groups, a 12-step program, and even a number of other tour pros reaching out offering help, Kirk’s resolution to his problems has been successful. He even talked to a psychiatrist, who prescribed him medication for his anxiety, and he has also partnered with a sports psychologist.
Kirk did not hit a single golf shot or even a club for that matter for four months. He got back to practicing a couple times a week but admitted he is not going to let his golf career get in the way of his happiness.
I am not willing to go back to making it feel like a job. I am not willing to go back to beating myself up when I do not play well, that is something that is a struggle for every PGA Tour player because you are out there. Everything is right there for everyone to see. When you play well, people treat you differently than when you do not play well. You have the tendency to treat yourself a lot differently when you play well than when you do not play well.”
Before 2019, Kirk made the FedEx Cup Playoffs eight consecutive years. He’s a four-time winner on Tour and his highest World Golf Ranking was 16th.