Cink Always Aware of Feelings of Inadequacy
It wasnt very long ago, though, that Cink was uncertain whether he would ever amount to anything in professional golf. He suddenly became aware of his professional inadequacies, something that he just couldnt seem to get out of his mind.
It was 2002 when I was struggling the most, he said of that time only two years ago. He was a Ryder Cup selection in 2001, but the events of 9/11 occurred and the match was postponed. That, unfortunately, gave him an opportunity to look around at whom else had made the Ryder Cup team.
I started comparing myself as a golfer to the other Ryder Cup team players, he said. Not just the current guys, but the ones that were in the past, too, Ryder Cup guys down the line. And I started being really harsh on myself for making mistakes.
For instance, Ryder Cup players don't miss three-footers, don't hit the ball in the rough on par-5s - just really hard on myself. And it changed very gradually over time so it's almost like I didn't notice it.
Cink had finished 26th on the money list in 2001, but his sudden period of self-doubt dropped him all the way down to 73rd the following year. It reached such a state that he finally revealed his fears to his swing coach, Mark Wood.
I sat him down and said, I've got problems. I mean, I'm really worried about where the ball is going to go, and I'm worried about missing putts. I'm scared of leaving myself a three-footer coming back. This obviously was not the same Stewart Cink that presently is No. 1 on the tour in putting.
Wood had an answer. He had an acquaintance in Florida whose specialty was working with self-doubters such as Cink. His name is Preston Waddington, and he had just the fix for Cink. Dont try to be perfect, said Waddington. It isnt possible, and the quicker you discern that, the better golfer you will become.
I've really learned a lot since then, the last few years, about fear in a golfer's mind and where it comes from, said Stewart. And instead of trying to push further out and filling your mind with other thoughts, I've really tried to grasp the fear and figure out why I'm afraid - why is a golfer afraid of a three-footer when it really is just a ball going in a hole or not? It really boils down to sense of self issues.
I was letting my golf results, my scores, my position on the money list, wins, not winning, everything - affect the way I felt about myself. And there's enough burden out here to carry when you've got these guys you're playing against and the golf courses are difficult.
Cink is very open about his sessions with Waddington. Some players would be hush-hush about any kind of psychological help. But not Stewart. Humans are prone to feelings of self-doubt, and Cink was Exhibit 1A. Jack Nicklaus himself said that if a golfer isnt a little scared, then he isnt much of a golfer.
You know, Cink said after winning the NEC Sunday, it's too much to ask of a person to perform under that kind of stress and add all this sense of self on top of it. It's psychoanalyst mumbo jumbo, I guess, but I've really gotten to a place where I'm accepting of my mistakes. Out there today, I was just prepared to accept any of those putts not going in.
Oh, he said, he still has periods of self-doubt. He expects, like Nicklaus, that he will be facing his fears when hes 50. A work in progress, Stewart termed it.
It's sort of the way the golf course unfolds itself different every day, you face new challenges, he said. Well, in my mind I face new challenges every day, too. I love talking about it because I'm proud of myself for admitting that I have issues. And being strong enough to go and tell somebody that I needed help, and I got help and worked hard to deal with it.'
He had in his mind what a champion golfer should look like. And he didnt fit that picture. Actually no one does, but Cink didnt realize it. No one is perfect with every shot, every putt. Its not how good your good shots are, as the saying goes, but how good your bad shots are. Thats where the champions stand out, never being bad enough to make it a hopeless situation.
Every time I took a new step up, said Cink, I started becoming harder on myself. And I gave myself less leeway for mistakes, so I was just killing myself. It was just too much stress to play under.
Cink still gets down on himself at times. He isnt a Vijay or Ernie or a Tiger ' and he never will be. But he still is one of the best players in the world. Hes No. 5 on the tour money list, and that should mean something. He doesnt need a therapist to tell him that that is pretty good.
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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion
Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.
Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.
“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.
It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.
“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”
The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.
“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”
Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey
Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:
Tiger sighting on the range! pic.twitter.com/rcJYLCes7R— Morning Drive (@GCMorningDrive) January 23, 2018
Back on TOUR.pic.twitter.com/OPmjaXFo1l— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 23, 2018
Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open
The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.
Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.
Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:
1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.
2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.
3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.
4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.
5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.
6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.
7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.
8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.
9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.
10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.
Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'
It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.
Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.
"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."
Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.
That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.
"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.
"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."