Cink Maintains Heritage Lead

By Sports NetworkApril 19, 2003, 4:00 pm
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. --Stewart Cink posted a 2-under 69 on Saturday to take the 54-hole lead of The Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links. He stands at 12-under-par 201 and owns a one-shot lead over Jeff Sluman, who shot a third-round 64.
'I'm tickled with the way I've been playing,' said Cink, who won this tournament in 2000. 'I've been keeping the ball in play most of the way and I'm managing my game really well. I'm playing with a lot of peace and a lot of confidence. It's really turned into some low scores.'
Woody Austin (65) and Kenny Perry (67) share third place at 10-under-par 203.
Hal Sutton, the 2004 United States Ryder Cup captain, held a two-shot lead midway through the round Saturday but a costly double-hit chip at the 14th cost him a penalty stroke and dropped him to a round of even-par 71. He shares fifth with four-time Heritage champion Davis Love III (69), Steve Flesch (67) and Chad Campbell (70) at minus-9.
Cink was not making up any ground on Sutton, who reached 12-under with back- to-back birdies at six and seven. Cink dropped a shot at the seventh but got his round going at the eighth when he putted in from off the green.
Cink birdied the par-4 10th and made it two in a row with a long birdie putt at the 11th. At 12-under par and alone in the lead, Cink made a mistake off the tee at No. 12 as his 3-wood tee ball did not get far enough down the fairway to avoid hanging tree branches in his approach. He hit a low 5-iron from 148 yards that ran through the putting surface into the rough. Cink flopped his pitch five feet right of the hole but missed the par save and fell back to 11-under par.
Sluman was already in the clubhouse at 11-under par so it was up to Cink to take the lead on his own. At the 15th, Cink hit a long pitching-wedge that sailed over the green. He hit a poor pitch that stopped seven feet past the hole but Cink, a three-time All-American at Georgia Tech, calmly holed the putt to save par and stay with Sluman at minus-11.
Cink elected to hit driver off the 16th tee and the ball headed into a bunker on the left side. The ball skipped through the sand and into the fairway, where Cink played his approach to four feet. He drained the birdie putt to go one ahead of Sluman.
Cink had reasonable chances at birdie on the final two holes but settled for pars and the fifth 54-hole lead in his career. He has not netted a victory in the previous four occasions with the lead and his most recent loss with the 54-hole lead was his most famous.
At the 2001 U.S. Open, Cink could have been a part of the 18-hole playoff between eventual winner Retief Goosen and Mark Brooks. At the 72nd hole on Sunday, Cink thought Goosen had an easy chance to win the title so Cink failed to take his time on a short putt. He missed the putt but Goosen missed an equally short putt and Cink missed out on his best chance at a major championship.
Cink struggled in 2002 after making his first Ryder Cup team and coming close to his first major. He posted only four top-10s last year and finished 73rd on the money list with less than $1 million for the first time since 1998.
'I got into a funk where I was result oriented,' said Cink, a two-time winner on tour. 'I was so concerned with making mistakes that I wouldn't allow myself to be free. I really learned how to free it up quite a bit more now and it's just a lot more fun to play this way.
'It's a tough game if you're afraid of failure. There's roughly 140 losers every week and one winner. You play a great career in golf and you win four or five times, maybe. You have to learn to accept it.'
Sluman was flawless on Saturday with seven birdies and no bogeys. He collected three birdies on his front nine but flew up the leaderboard with his play on the back nine.
Sluman, who lost a playoff in this event to Glen Day in 1999, holed a downhill 12-footer at the 12th and made it two birdies in a row with a four-footer at No. 13.
At the 14th, Sluman hit a 5-iron 35 feet left of the hole and drained the long birdie putt to get to 10-under par.
'It's just one of those ones that just goes in and you have no explanation for it,' said Sluman.
Sluman ran home an eight-foot birdie putt at 15 to make it four in a row. He had a six-foot look at birdie on the 16th but missed and his birdie try from 15 feet at the next grazed the hole without falling.
'Historically, every week, somebody makes a big run on Saturday and I felt as if I was playing well enough that I could make a few putts and maybe I could be the guy to shoot a good number here and I've done it in the past,' said Sluman. 'I went out and stayed pretty patient and made a few putts.'
Sutton missed the green left at the par-3 14th and double hit his chip shot. He called the one-stroke penalty on himself and double-bogeyed the hole but is still in contention for his first title since the 2001 Houston Open.
'That's the right thing to do and I've got to get up and look at myself in the mirror tomorrow,' said Sutton, referring to his penalty. 'I lost it in the middle of the round. I didn't do the same thing I've been doing.'
Ernie Els, Nick Price, Jim Furyk, Chris Riley, Doug Barron, Peter Jacobsen, Tom Pernice, Jr., Matt Gogel and Geoff Ogilvy are tied for ninth place at 8-under-par 205.
Related Links
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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.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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