Kizzire is picking up speed after slow start

HONOLULU — Patton Kizzire never lost his cool even in the midst of a wild week on Oahu he won’t soon forget.

He woke up Saturday morning to a push alert about a ballistic missile strike on Hawaii that turned out to be a false alarm.

Kizzire received a text the next morning from the PGA Tour about another strike, this one real, of the labor variety. The camera and audio production crew for Golf Channel walked off the job during the final round of the Sony Open when contract negotiations stalled. While it didn’t affect anyone’s game, it was no less strange to see so many TV towers that were vacant during the final round at Waialae Country Club.

If that wasn’t enough, the caddie of fellow Auburn alum Blayne Barber collapsed and was in critical condition with bleeding and swelling in his brain.

So it was only fitting that the Sony Open concluded Sunday with the longest playoff in its 53-year history, ending along the shores of the Pacific Ocean on the par-3 17th hole when Kizzire made par to outlast James Hahn on the sixth extra hole.

“It has been a peculiar week,” Kizzire said. “We have a great friend that is in critical condition — our prayers to him and his family,” he said. “The missile threat was wild, and the camera strike was unexpected, as well. So among all that, I was able to focus on playing golf. And I was glad to get the win.”

For a guy who took longer than he wanted to get on the PGA Tour, he now can’t seem to slow down.

Kizzire became the first multiple winner on the PGA Tour this season. He also won the OHL Classic in Mexico in a head-to-head battle with Rickie Fowler.

If it was stressful, Kizzire didn’t show it. His demeanor, the very image of southern comfort, didn’t change whether he was chipping in for eagle on the 10th hole of regulation on his way to a 68 or whether he was standing on the 18th green three times watching Hahn stand over a putt for the win.

Don’t be fooled.

He is churning on the inside, and it’s a feeling that drives him.

“I love trying to get better and putting myself in uncomfortable spots,” Kizzire said. “That’s all I want to do is just be somewhere that I’ve never been, because that gets me uncomfortable. That’s when I know I’m doing something right.”

It took him longer than he might have expected to get to the PGA Tour. He graduated from Auburn in 2008 and he was 29 when he finally reached the PGA Tour in the fall of 2015 after winning the Web.com Tour money title.

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