Beyond the pale: Cink's head goes viral

By Jason SobelJanuary 11, 2014, 12:01 am

HONOLULU - There was no tactful way of asking the question, so after Stewart Cink finished off his second-round 69 at the Sony Open with a birdie on the final hole, I just spit it out.

“So, do you know that, um, your head is, uh, going viral?”

It may not be the most hard-hitting query I’ve ever posed to a major champion, but at least it was relevant. One day earlier, Cink tapped in a putt on his final hole, then removed his hat and shook hands with playing partners Marc Leishman and Michael Thompson. These few seconds were shown live on Golf Channel’s telecast, revealing an incredible tan line where the back of Cink’s hat had been. While his neck was a deep tan, his bald head was a pasty white.

Within minutes, a screen grab of the moment swept across social media. People who didn’t care anything about the Sony Open or Stewart Cink or even golf in general were marveling at this decided line of demarcation.

By Friday morning, thousands of people around the world had seen it and commented on it. But one question remained: Did Cink even know?

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“I did see the replay last night of one of my shots that they showed and it’s the first thing I noticed, too,” he said Friday. “Like, wow. My head looked like it was glowing. You know, this time of year, when we come out to Hawaii with the strong sun, I just tan really easily everywhere except, obviously, under this hat. I can’t help it. I fight the battle of bad tan line. I don’t know what else to do.”

In case you couldn’t tell from that comment, not only was Cink willing to speak about being the butt of the latest Internet joke, he did so good-naturedly, even laughing at himself.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’s always been a willing participant in some witty banter – and he knows his way around social media. When it comes to Twitter, Cink is the OG (Original Golfer), with more than 1.1 million followers since joining over five years ago.

In fact, maybe the biggest surprise is that other tweeters beat him to the punchline.

“If it was somebody else, I probably would have tweeted about it, too, because it caught my attention and it was funny,” he explained. “And it’s harmless. It’s just an easy thing to sort of laugh at and poke fun at. It’s fine with me. I know it looks silly. But it’s enough of a battle for me.”

The question now is: What happens next?


As one Twitter user suggested, since we’ve already endured Dufnering, will this be the start to a new craze called Cinking? “Dufnering is a little easier to imitate on the spot,” Cink said. “It’s hard to do this. This takes years. You’ve got to have commitment. If someone treats this like Dufnering, I’ll definitely give them a high five.”

Well, maybe it will catch on in other ways. Kikkor Golf has already introduced the “Cink or Swim Golf Cap” to its online product line. For a mere $15, you, too, can look just like Cink. (Description: “Don’t bother investing in hours and hours of sunbathing when you can have a natural looking ‘golf cap’ of your own. Comes in three colour options to provide the perfect contrast.”) Only problem? It’s already sold out.

Cink, though, is hoping to cash in for himself. He figures the attention from his excessive tan line should be enough to claim an endorsement deal – with a company that produces spray tans.

“For sure, I’m already thinking that way,” he laughed. “I want to go spray tan. I can’t do it on the golf course, because I sweat too much. But I owe it to my wife, Lisa, to not have this stupid looking tan line when we go out on a date and she has to sit and endure that.”

Somewhere amongst these head-related questions, I asked Cink about his golf game. He’s only a month removed from winning the PNC Father/Son Challenge with his son, Connor. And so far this week, he’s posted a pair of under-par rounds, showing glimpses of the player who famously stole the claret jug away from Tom Watson back in 2009.

But it didn’t take long for us to circle back to that unfortunate tan line. I thought it might have been a source of pride – maybe the more palpable the line, the more it shows he’s been grinding away on the practice range –  but sadly, even that isn’t the case.

“It’s not a source of anything,” he said. “When we’re at our lake house in the summer, I can spend two weeks out on the boat with no hat and it gets nice and even. Then 30 minutes on the range and it gets like this. I need to spend time outside without a hat on to get it even, but it’s impossible. I can’t play catch-up when the sun is this strong.”

At that point, we ended the interview. I thanked him for being a good sport while he rubbed the back of his head, as if that would somehow make it all go away.

Before he left, I reminded him that, hey, at least I asked him something about his golf game at one point, too.

“That’s true,” he answered. “I don’t know what it was, but you did. I was just happy to talk about my tan line.”

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x