Remember me? Cink ready to rise

By Doug FergusonJanuary 12, 2012, 1:51 pm

HONOLULU – Two dozen PGA Tour rookies start their season Thursday at the Sony Open.

In some respects, Stewart Cink feels like one of them.

“This is a fresh start,” he said Wednesday, walking down the 15th fairway at Waialae Country Club during the best part of the day as the warm sun started to drop toward the Pacific horizon.

Cink is 38 and about to embark on his 15th season. He is still saluted as the guy who spoiled an epic moment in sports by taking down Tom Watson at Turnberry to win the 2009 British Open. His home life has never been better. His oldest son, Connor, is a senior in high school who was recently made captain of his high school hockey team in Atlanta. Reagan will turn 15 on Sunday at the Masters.

His golf game? That’s another story.

Cink moved up to No. 9 in the world when he won at Turnberry. He starts this year at No. 147.

“I don’t feel like I belong there,” Cink said, conceding that he stopped paying attention after he slipped out of the top 100. “It’s very disappointing, but I’ve played about that kind of golf. I’ll never be one to argue about the ranking. I think the ranking tells you how you’re playing. You can’t hide from them.”

It seems as though Cink has been in hiding.

He had sinus surgery in November and the medication he was on kept him awake at night. He wound up watching the Presidents Cup, another reminder of how far he had fallen. Cink had played on the previous seven U.S. teams in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. He had to sit this one out.

He played in 23 consecutive World Golf Championships until last year at Doral. He starts this year not eligible for any of them. He still gets into the majors based on his win at the Open.

“I feel like I belong in World Golf Championships, playing late on Sunday. That’s where I’ve been my whole career,” he said. “It’s a little bit embarrassing. It’s a pride thing, almost shameful. Like it or not, golf – when you’ve done it as long as I’ve done it – becomes part of you. If you’ve got bad golf, that means something is bad inside of you. It hurts. When you play well for a long time, it’s frustrating.”

This is not a British Open hangover.

On paper, it would look as though Cink spent a year celebrating his major championship, then never got back on track. In fact, he says he had been playing badly and had an extraordinary week at the right time one week in July on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.

He traces the problem to his attempt at hitting a draw. Over the last five years, the path of his swing became more pronounced from the inside, to the point where he had to rely more on his timing. The result was a two-way miss, the worst feeling for any golfer on the tee, and an inadequate short game made it feel even worse.

Cink went from missing the Tour Championship in 2010 to missing the last two playoff events a year ago, finishing 98th in the standings. He was No. 101 on the money list, finishing outside the top 100 for the first time in his career.

Even so, his optimism level is right up there with the rookies.

Cink began working last summer with Chris O’Donnell, who also teaches Matt Kuchar, trying to get the club more square at impact. When he had himself videotaped in 3-D, he said his swing was coming from the inside at 7 degrees.

“This year is a test,” he said. “I want to see how I can respond to these changes.”

The biggest change might be his desire. Cink asked himself some serious questions during the offseason, one of them being what he wants to accomplish the rest of his career. He even questioned his own will, wondering if it might be better to simply ride out that five-year exemption he received from the British Open and just walk away.

He’s not ready for that, not at his age.

“It’s easy to lose drive and focus when you’re having a bad stretch,” he said. “Everything in my life, other than golf, has grown up. My kids have grown up. My relationship with (wife) Lisa has grown up. It’s easy to want to focus on other stuff when you’re struggling, and I battled through that a little bit.”

And he found a role model in Steve Stricker, who won last week at Kapalua for his eighth PGA Tour win in the last three years, the most of any player.

Stricker was in his mid-30s when his game started to go south. He was terrified off the tee, not sure where the ball was going. He lost his PGA Tour card. But through dedication and hard work, he pulled himself out the slump and now is arguably the best American player.

“That’s how I’d like to be,” Cink said.

It all starts Thursday in the first full-field event of the season, where Mark Wilson is the defending champion and Stricker is the star based on his performance last week on Maui.

Two dozen rookies get started, 11 of whom have never competed in a PGA Tour event. Optimism is never higher than it is on the shores of Waikiki Beach at the start of a new season. And yes, that includes Cink.

“I don’t call him Stewart,” caddie Frank Williams said. “I call him ‘Comeback Player of the Year.”’

Cink isn’t ready to go that far, at least not yet. He has four tournaments – Honolulu, San Diego, Phoenix and L.A. – to see if he can get his world ranking high enough go to the Match Play Championship at the end of February. This is a Ryder Cup year, and the last time Cink was not part of the U.S. team was at Brookline in 1999.

“Now it’s time to come out here and work,” he said. “And I’m really looking forward to seeing how I do.”

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.