The duo began their 2018 seasons on Thursday on a mission to contend once again this week, carding seven-under 63s to share a one-stroke lead at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
By then, two-time major victor Johnson was in the clubhouse after a 67 that included three birdies and an eagle at the ninth.
Kirk, a four-time victor on the USA tour, nabbed five of his seven birdies on the back nine. His next wouldn't come until the par-5 ninth, where he two-putted from 33 feet to turn in four-under 31.
Johnson got off to a hot start in his pursuit of Kirk, with birdies at the first three holes.
Harman played in the final group at Kapalua last week and tied for third in a final round in which no one had much of a chance against Dustin Johnson.
Kirk, whose most recent victory was at Colonial in 2015, said a return to his old putting routines had paid off on the greens.
"I'm just going to show up tomorrow and try to hit the first tee shot best you can and go from there".
"But I'll use that going forward".
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They were a shot ahead of Brian Harman, Vaughn Taylor, Kyle Stanley and PGA Tour rookie Talor Gooch.
Two-time major victor Johnson carded a bogey-free seven-under 63 in the afternoon wave that included a birdie at 18 to grab a share of the lead with early starter Kirk, who stormed into the clubhouse with four birdies over the final six holes.
Peter Malnati, Daisuke Kataoka, Matt Every and Tom Hoge opened with five-under 65s.
The American was four under with two holes to play, but he endured a nightmare on the par-four eighth.
Spieth was rolling at four-under when he fired into a tree off the tee at eight. He trailed the No. 1 player by two shots on Sunday. He wound up with a quadruple-bogey 8, and even a pitch from the rough short of the ninth green that stopped inches away for birdie wasn't enough to appease him.
Defending champion Justin Thomas, who a year ago opened with a 59 before going on to set the PGA Tour's all-time scoring record in a 72-hole event of 253, could not conjure up that same magic, instead carding a three-under 67, four strokes behind the leaders.
Thomas had five-times major champion Phil Mickelson's former caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay, on his bag since his usual looper is unavailable due to injury.