PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 25: Chris Kirk of the United States hits his first shot on the 8th hole during the third round of The Honda Classic at PGA National Resort And Spa on February 25, 2023 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

The PGA TOUR announced Chris Kirk has been named the recipient of the PGA TOUR Courage Award. Kirk, 38, took a leave of absence from the TOUR in May of 2019 to address issues of alcohol abuse and depression. He returned to the TOUR later that year after a break of more than six months, regained exempt status in 2021 through a Major Medical Extension and in 2023, earned his fifth PGA TOUR title and first since 2015.


The PGA TOUR Courage Award is presented to a person who, through courage and perseverance, has overcome extraordinary adversity, such as personal tragedy or debilitating injury or illness, to make a significant and meaningful contribution to the game of golf. Kirk is the sixth recipient of the PGA TOUR Courage Award, which was established in 2012, joining Erik Compton (2013), Jarrod Lyle (2015), Gene Sauers (2017), Morgan Hoffmann (2020) and D.J. Gregory (2022).


PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan presented Kirk with the Courage Award on Tuesday at The RSM Classic, with this year’s event marking the 10-year anniversary of his 2013 RSM Classic victory. Fellow PGA TOUR members Russell Henley, Denny McCarthy, Davis Love III, Keith Mitchell, Greyson Sigg, and Brendon Todd were in attendance.


“The PGA TOUR Courage Award is reserved for very special circumstances and equally special people, and Chris’ impact on the game of golf goes way beyond the singular focus of numbers on a scorecard,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “Professional athletes have an incredible platform to help others, and Chris’ honesty, candor and courage in speaking publicly about dealing with a very personal situation has inspired so many people with everyday struggles.”


The Courage Award includes a contribution of $25,000 by the TOUR to a charity of the award recipient’s choice. RSM US LLP, the title sponsor of this week’s RSM Classic and a partner of Kirk’s since 2018, will match the contribution. It was recently announced that Kirk’s partnership with RSM has been extended through 2025.


Kirk, a native of Atlanta, turned professional in 2007 upon graduation from the University of Georgia, where he was a member of the 2005 NCAA Championship team. He joined the PGA TOUR in 2011 and has won five times on TOUR, most notably winning the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of the four FedExCup Playoffs events played in 2014. He also represented the U.S. at the 2015 Presidents Cup in Korea, sinking a 15-foot putt to defeat Anirban Lahiri in a critical Sunday Singles match to help the U.S. clinch the Presidents Cup by a narrow 15.5-14.5 margin.


During the 2018-19 season, Kirk played in 17 events, with his final start of the campaign coming at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans during the last week in April. On May 7, 2019, the day before his 34th birthday, Kirk posted a statement to his social media accounts: 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 your support.


Tuesday’s announcement comes on the four-year anniversary of Kirk’s return to competition following his time away from competitive golf, the first round of the 2019 World Wide Technology Championship.

He has qualified for the BMW Championship in each of the last three seasons and in 2023, broke through for a playoff victory over Eric Cole at The Classic in The Palm Beaches (formerly The Honda Classic), his first PGA TOUR title in nearly eight years. He finished the 2022-23 season No. 32 in the FedExCup standings, the second-highest finish of his 13-year career on TOUR and highest since he finished No. 2 in 2014.


Kirk and his wife, Tahnee, reside in Athens, Georgia, with their three boys, Sawyer, Foster and Wilder.


Kirk and other ambassadors of RSM, including RSM Classic tournament host Davis Love III, will be featured in a network special, “Faces of Golf,” which will air on Sunday, November 19 at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC. The special will showcase Team RSM and their stories of stewardship, trailblazing and resiliency, including more on Kirk’s story.


The principle of “Courage” guides Step Four in Alcoholics Anonymous’ “Twelve Steps” program. Step Four allows members to perform an honest character and behavior evaluation, so they can devise strategies to overcome defects that may have contributed to their alcoholism. A personal appraisal takes courage, as members may have to confront some painful and uncomfortable truths about themselves.

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