Then he recorded 22 birdies, set two course records and breezed to medalist honors at a sectional qualifier for next week's championship at Olympia Fields.
Cink had rounds of 62-61, finishing nine strokes ahead of anyone else.
'I've played some good rounds before, but that was kind of ridiculous,' he said.
Mark Calcavecchia, Bob Tway and Jesper Parnevik were among other PGA Tour pros who earned a trip to the U.S. Open.
Tom Lehman withdrew from the qualifier and will miss the U.S. Open for the first time in 11 years. He is the only man to have played in the final group at the U.S. Open four consecutive years, from 1995 to 1998.
In other qualifiers Monday:
-- Chad Campbell had 72-67 at Kirtland, Ohio, and beat 15 other players for one spot.
-- Trip Kuehne, the runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 1994 U.S. Amateur, broke the course record at Stonebridge Ranch with a 10-under 62 and coasted home to a 73 to earn one of two spots at McKinney, Texas.
-- Bryce Molder, a four-time All-American at Georgia Tech, qualified for the first time as a professional with an 8-under 134 to earn one of four spots at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Ill. Among those who failed to qualify was Dale Tallon, 52, who played five years with Chicago Blackhawks.
-- One of the two spots at Columbine Country Club in Littleton, Colo., went to 16-year-old Tom Glissmeyer, who had a 3-under 141.
-- Duffy Waldorf failed to qualify at El Cabellero in Tarzana, Calif., where four spots were available. Bill Lunde was the medalist at 7-under 135.
-- In Auburn, Wash., Christopher Baryla got the only spot with a 5-under 139 at Washington National.
-- Steve Gotsche earned the only spot at Milburne Golf Club in Kansas City, Mo. Among those who failed to qualify were Tom Pernice and Matt Gogel.
Most of the PGA Tour players were in Ohio, just down the street from the Memorial, where 100 players went after 20 spots.
Cink didn't get off to the best of starts with his bogey on the opening hole at The Lakes.
'I was already thinking about what I might be doing next week, things I had to do around the house,' he said.
After parring the second hole, he birdied six in a row, parred another and then birdied three more. He closed out a 62 with birdies on two of the last three holes, breaking the course record of 64 set by local touring pro Chris Perry.
Cink, a two-time winner in seven years on the PGA Tour, drove 15 minutes to Double Eagle and parred the first hole -- then followed it with eight consecutive birdies. He made the turn in 28, and his 61 set another course record.
'I went over there and just completely went nuts -- eight birdies in a row -- and one of them was from an absurd distance, like a 50-footer,' Cink said. 'I started laughing, and the guys in my group and the caddies were laughing too. It was fun.'
Maybe this U.S. Open will go better than the last two.
He missed the cut a year ago. In 2001 at Southern Hills, Cink three-putted for double-bogey on the 72nd hole, missing an 18-inch second putt to fall one stroke short of the 18-hole playoff the following day with Mark Brooks and eventual champion Retief Goosen.
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