Chris Kirk leads RSM Classic after firing a stunning 63 in first round

Chris Kirk has had a tough couple of years. He played on the Presidents Cup team in 2015, but it has been a slow, consistent tumble from the top since then. He hasn't been bad, necessarily, but he jhasn't been as good as he was in 2014-15 when he won three times. However, things might be turning around for the four-time PGA Tour winner. He leads the RSM Classic after a 63 in Round 1 on Thursday.

Kirk shot a 31 on the front nine, went bogey free and eagled the last. He leads by one over Joel Dahmen and two over Hudson Swafford, Brian Gay and Jason Kokrak.

Kirk hasn't won since the Crowne Plaza Invitational in 2015, and he only has six top 10s since then. He went from being ranked No. 17 in the world to No. 188 now. He does have a history at this event, though. He won here in 2013 and finished T4 the year after that. According to the PGA Tour, no full-time St. Simons Island resident has ever won this tournament. Kirk is a part-time resident, though, and he's looking for win No. 2 here.

Dahmen, the man chasing him, played spectacularly as well. He shot a bogey-free 64 on Thursday, and in the final tournament of 2017, both of these players are looking for their first win of the calendar year to punch their ticket to the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii to start 2018.

But Dahmen said he's just trying to get himself into events for next season. He bounced back and forth between the PGA Tour and Tour last season and has one top 25 in four events so far this season.

"It would be huge," Dahmen told Golf Channel of finishing high enough to qualify for tournaments like the Phoenix Open and Genesis Open. "A good finish here would definitely do that."

Players are a playing for all kinds of things this time of year. For Kirk, it might be to reverse a steady slide down the OWGR. For Dahmen, it might be to just get into some tournaments in 2018. For both, that trip to Hawaii in just over a month lingers. There's a long way to go at the RSM Classic, but these two are off to a fantastic start in the last event of the year.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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