Cink draws inspiration from wife's cancer battle

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2016, 9:52 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – There was a time when Stewart Cink’s missed 7 footer for par at his final hole on Thursday at the RSM Classic would have left a prolonged mark on what was otherwise a perfect day.

He would have gone to the practice putting green and rolled in 7-footers until dark, and he probably wouldn’t have been the best company for dinner.

He would have let his golf define him.

It’s a common and understandable reaction for PGA Tour players to let the numbers on the scorecard dictate their mood, their identity, but as Cink went over his 8-under 62 that left him one stroke off the lead it wasn’t the missed 7-footer at the last, or any of the birdie putts that did drop, he was fixated on.

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s going to be a good day from sun up to sun down, the golf will be a little part of that,” Cink said with a smile.

In the 20th year of his Tour career, the veteran admits it’s taken the better part of 20 calendars to get to the sunnier side of Cink.

Cink has come by his new perspective honestly.

On Monday, Cink’s wife, Lisa, was informed by doctors that her ongoing battle with stage-four breast cancer had transitioned from the initial treatment phase to what he called a maintenance phase.

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In other words, it had already been a good week for the Cinks long before he teed off for Round 1.

In May, Cink stepped away from the Tour to be by Lisa’s side as she endured nine rounds of chemotherapy and the uncertainty caused by her diagnosis.

He returned to the Tour, however reluctantly, at June’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, telling your scribe at the time, “I realized quickly that I didn’t want to be there [on Tour] without her.”

Lisa Cink was there on Thursday on an idyllic fall day at Sea Island Resort, watching all 62 of her husband’s swipes, just as she’s been doing since June.

As clichéd as it might sound, when your life is dictated by blood tests and chemotherapy treatments, a three-putt bogey loses much of its sting.

“It's constantly hanging over us, just the nature of it,” Cink said. “You don't know what the future brings with something like this. I am just really encouraged by the way she's been able to fight and handle it. It's just she's really like an inspiration for me.”

Don’t confuse Cink’s new perspective with indifference. The idea that he’s able to compartmentalize his day job from living day-to-day may not be a common skillset on the Tour, but it’s certainly not an indication of his desire.

“Not being tied to the results doesn’t mean we don’t care,” said Cink following his lowest round on the Tour. “I know who I am, I know what I have to offer. That’s what I want to be, and not let the golf shots define me.”

Cink’s evolving perspective is just part of how Lisa’s cancer has changed him. While keeping his performance on the golf course walled off has given him the ability to play “free and easy,” watching his wife endure countless treatments also inspired him to take a similar, determined approach to his game.

He started working with a new putting coach – he needed just 27 putts on Thursday on the Seaside Course – and intensified his work with a sports psychologist.

“I felt if Lisa can fight, I can fight,” he said.

Since returning to the Tour in June, Cink has found some consistency that had been missing from his game in recent years. He closed last season with a tie for 14th at the Wyndham Championship, his best finish of the season, and has finished tied for 15th in his last two Tour starts heading into the RSM Classic.

Thursday’s round was particularly surprising for a player who doesn’t have a history of going super low on Tour. After playing his first nine holes in 4 under (he started on the 10th hole), he birdied four consecutive holes starting at the fourth. It was his 3 1/2 footer for birdie at the seventh that sent his thoughts drifting to the prospects of shooting a 59.

“It crossed my mind, it’s the first time I’ve had a shot at that,” he said.

That didn’t work out for Cink after his bogey at his final hole left him a stroke behind rookie Mackenzie Hughes, not that the 43-year-old had any interest in lamenting his missed opportunity.

There was no extended practice on the putting green, no post-round meeting to identify areas of weakness, just a subdued appreciation of what he was able to accomplish, of what Lisa was able to accomplish.

“Some days you don't feel like it, but she's still getting out there and walking,” Cink said. “Today she feels really good, almost what you would consider like normal. She feels really good.”

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.