Chris Kirk Returns To The PGA Tour After Alcohol Struggles

The American tees it up next week after taking seven months away from golf to control his alcohol addiction and mental health

Chris Kirk Returns To The PGA Tour After Alcohol Struggles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The American tees it up next week after taking seven months away from golf to control his alcohol addiction and mental health

Chris Kirk Returns To The PGA Tour After Alcohol Struggles

Chris Kirk is to tee it up at next week's Mayakoba Classic in Mexico for his first start on the PGA Tour in seven months after taking a leave of absence to deal with alcoholism.

The American took time away from the game in April and revealed why in May on social media, saying that he has "dealt with alcohol abuse and depression for some time now."

Kirk also went on to say, "I thought I could control it, but after multiple relapses I have come to realise that I can't fix this on my own."

The four-time PGA Tour winner, who has also won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour, revealed more about his struggles in an open and honest interview with the PGA Tour.

Kirk said that April 29th of this year is a day that "is definitely stuck in my mind and will be for a long time."

It was the day he realised that he needed to get help after trying to quit alcohol a number of times but never with success.

In November 2018, he realised that he couldn't control the addiction and needed to stop, but it wasn't until April of this year that he got help instead of trying to quit on his own.

Kirk moved away from beer to drink spirits and wine after the beer was affecting his weight, but the alcohol was affecting his family life, his professional life and his mental health.

Chris Kirk's biggest win came at the 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship, a FedEx Cup Playoff event. He finished 2nd in the FedEx Cup that year.

“Switching from beer to hard liquor probably accelerated things for me a little bit as well,” he said.

The former World No.16 was on the road 30 weeks a year away from his family and would drink at dinner after golf and then continue into the night alone in his hotel room.

“I have gone from this perfect scenario that I had always dreamed of, to now close to 30 weeks a year on the road by myself,” Kirk, who has three children aged 7, 5 and 2, told the PGA Tour.

“I was like ‘This was not part of the plan. This was not what I ever wanted.’"

Related: Rocco Mediate reveals alcohol struggles

Kirk has been working with a sports psychologist and therapist and he also been attending group sessions.

In his time away from the PGA Tour, the 34-year-old has been coaching his sons' basketball teams and playing social golf with his friends.

As well as those things to take his mind off of the alcohol and addiction, he is working on his '12-step programme', reading and attending meetings to keep his mental health in check.

He didn't touch a club for over three months but more recently has been playing twice a week and is now practising in preparation for his return to professional golf.

“Something I have learned more recently is that, most people, if they drink a decent amount and they have a legitimate reason to not drink, everything gets better,” he said.

“Their mental clarity gets better. Their health gets better. All these things get better.

“But for an alcoholic, if you just stop drinking on your own and do not really do anything else and just fight it every day, then everything gets worse. That was definitely the case for me. My anxiety about my golf. My anxiety about money. My anxiety about my relationships.

“I was just fighting it and fighting it,” Kirk told the PGA Tour.

Related: Matt Every suspended by the PGA Tour for marijuana use

“Finally, after a couple of relapses, if that is what you want to call it, in April it was just like, ‘Okay, I can't do this anymore. I have got to change something because I am going to end up with nothing. …’

“It was when I realised I just really, truly do not have control over this, because I really wanted to not be doing it and I still was.”

Now, the six-time pro winner is mentally healthy and off the alcohol.

“It is just awesome to feel that way," he says.

"To have gone from this overwhelming fear and anxiety of the future to now just pure excitement and embracing that I do not know what is going to happen because nobody knows what is going to happen."

Read Chris Kirk's full PGA Tour interview here

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Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV