Last Sunday, Chris Kirk brought some “emotionless robot” energy into the final round of the Honda Classic, and it served him quite well. He picked up his first PGA Tour victory in nearly eight years, outlasting Eric Cole in a playoff at PGA National.

Obviously, it would be ideal to keep that same energy on Thursday morning at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where Kirk had a quick turnaround being in the first group off Bay Hill’s 10th tee at 7.49am. Problem was, he didn’t have any energy left to give.

“That 5.30 alarm came really early,” Kirk said, adding, “I felt a little bit like a zombie this morning.”

Keep in mind, Kirk was also first off on Monday at the Seminole Pro-Member, where he had a 7.25am tee time after getting less than four hours of sleep on Sunday night. He was so gassed that he took the day off on Tuesday, which would normally be a important prep day for a tournament of this magnitude.

Much like his decision to pass up the Genesis Invitational to prepare for the Honda, that decision proved to be the prudent one. Kirk kept it rolling on Thursday at Bay Hill, overcoming that zombie feeling to shoot a five-under 67 that has him in a tie for second at day’s end. He’s making all the right moves right now.

It helped, too, that this event is an easy one to get up for.

“Can’t really take away from the excitement that I have playing this event every year,” he said. “I talked about it some the last few days, the personal relationship I had with Mr Palmer, and I just have always loved this golf tournament. He was a big influence and somebody that I really looked up to, and so this tournament is something. Because of that and also because of that I’ve played pretty well here over the years makes it a really special week and a week that I look forward to.”

If not for a bogey at his first and last holes of the day, Kirk could have tied for the lead with Jon Rahm, who continued his scorching stretch with a seven-under 65. As it stands, Kirk is tied with Cameron Young and Kurt Kitayama. On Friday, he’ll go off at 12.39pm at No. 1, which gives him plenty of time to catch up on some much-needed shut-eye. He actually may have already gotten a headstart on that.

“After Sunday night, I’ve just tried to sleep as much as I can, get as much rest as I can,” Kirk said. “I’ll be doing some more of that this afternoon.”

The way it’s going for Kirk, we’re guessing the early bedtime will just be another stroke of genius.

Another Rickie sighting

We’ve played this game one too many times before over the last few years, particularly on Thursdays. But … this time it’s starting to feel different? It feels dangerous to even type that, but Fowler, who ground out a four-under 68 on Thursday, is feeling that way, too. The swing looks better, the longer putter is working and he’s had some actual form since finishing T-2 at the Zozo Championship in the autumn, making five straight cuts since with three top-20 finishes.

“After the previous three years, [it’s nice] to be in a position where I’m actually building momentum and confidence,” Fowler said. “There was like maybe short spurts of that in the past, but now it just seems to kind of be a little bit of a snowball effect.”

Those short spurts Fowler is referring to usually resulted in what Golf Twitter likes to call the “Full Camilo”, in which a player jumps out to a hot start on Thursday only to come crashing back down to Earth on Friday to the point he is sweating the cut line. There’s been none of that this year. Save for a second-round 75 at the Genesis Invitational, where he still tied for 20th, Fowler has been uber-consistent, with 21 rounds of 70 or better in the 30 rounds he’s played this year. That may not sound all that impressive, but it is for a guy who couldn’t avoid the odd 77 or 78 for the last few seasons.

“It’s good,” Fowler said of his confidence level on Thursday. “Especially a day like today where I wasn’t swinging great, I wasn’t driving it well and being able to just kind of get it around and accept what I had. Didn’t try and force anything. It’s also nice to, on top of that, make some putts, which is something that held me back the last few years. So, yeah, just confidence continues to build. Not always going to hit it perfect, but I think you get a lot more out of days when you’re not hitting it well like today and shooting four under. I would much rather see getting a lot out of rounds versus go stripe it and feel like you left so many out there.”

“Leaving a few out there” would be a welcomed problem for Fowler right now. Seeing him near the top of the leaderboard and getting way-too-excited remains a welcomed problem for all of us, too.