How Did Chris Kirk End His Alcohol Addiction? 5x PGA Tour Champion’s Painful Journey Explored

Published 01/07/2024, 9:12 PM EST

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You might envy him now, but only a few years ago, it wasn’t easy being Chris Kirk. Winning numerous times in as many years puts some expectations on one’s shoulders. To cope with the weight of these expectations, Kirk eventually succumbed to alcoholism, which led to depression. Staying on the road, away from family, exacerbated the problem further. After years of struggle, the 38-year-old realized in 2019 that it was time for a hard reset.

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In June, Kirk announced on X (Formerly Twitter), that he was taking an indefinite sabbatical to deal with alcohol abuse. It was shocking because Kirk was not notorious for partying. But as Tahnee Kirk, his wife, recounted, “When he was home, you noticed he was not going to bed any night of the week without drinking. He’s not really eating any meals without drinking.” How did the PGA Tour pro turn around his life?

How Kirk ended his nightmare years

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It took Chris Kirk some time to gauge the extent of his addiction. But when he realized his ‘love’ for Bourbon was something he had to fight, not nurture, Kirk took prompt action. He tried it on his own first. When he failed, the five-time PGA Tour winner sought the help of a psychiatrist.

Kirk also enrolled himself in a 12-step program after announcing a break from pro golf in 2019. The 38-year-old was trying to find a balance, but he failed miserably. “I got caught in a trap years ago where I was on the road a lot by myself, missing my family and dealing with it in really pretty terrible ways,” Chris Kirk told Forbes. 

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Realizing he couldn’t do it alone, the American International started renting rooms with fellow PGA Tour pros when he was traveling. Six months after announcing his sabbatical, Kirk came back on the Tour. But finding success was a tough grind.

He recorded four top-ten finishes in each of the subsequent seasons, yet a win was hard to come by until February of 2023 when he won the Honda Classic. His fifth title came 2836 days after he won his fourth at the 2015 Crowne Plaza Invitational. The PGA Tour gave befitting recognition to this remarkable achievement.

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Pain and Glory of Chris Kirk

Chris Kirk was awarded the PGA Tour Courage Award in November. The award recognizes players who, after suffering a significant personal or professional setback, show dedication and courage to make a comeback. While presenting the award, Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, said, “Chris’ impact on the game of golf goes way beyond the singular focus of numbers on a scorecard.”

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Chris Kirk is currently at the top of the Sentry leaderboard after the moving day. The 38-year-old, during his last win, said he owed everything to his sobriety. If the Atlanta native manages to hold on to his lead, he would perhaps look back on 2019 and pat himself on the back for taking the daring step towards success.

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Written by:

Parnab Bhattacharya

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One take at a time

I, Parnab Bhattacharya, am a budding golf writer at EssentiallySports. I am keen on constantly exploring my deep-rooted love for golf through my long-time passion for writing. With a strong knack for storytelling and experience in SEO content writing, I bring a unique blend of fluent writing and technical expertise.
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Edited by:

Tushhita.barua

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