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2001 US Open - Stewart Cink News Conference Transcript

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Q. Mark Brooks said there must be a ghost hanging around that 18th hole in major championships here. Whoever wins doesn't even usually break par on that hole. What was going through your head on that one?
 
STEWART CINK: Well, when you come to the last hole of a tournament, whether it's the U.S. Open or whatever, it's -- a lot of times it turns into match play. And you can say you're playing against the course all you want to, but it turns into match play on the last hole. It was like a sudden death playoff. So I was playing not only against the hole, but I was also playing against the situation that I needed to at least tie Retief on the hole or beat him to win. And so after I missed the green left and then chipped on and I was looking at about a 12-footer there, I thought that was a pretty crucial putt, because the situation dictated to me that I needed to make that, because Retief had a gimmie 2-putt. So after I hit my first putt and thought I made it or I thought it was going in and it just missed the edge, then it was really hard to concentrate on the next one, because I really didn't think it meant that much. And I pretty much put all the emotional energy I had into the first one. And so concentrating was very difficult. It was quite a bit different from the same putt I had on 17, which was the exact same putt, straight uphill, three feet. And it's a funny thing, but I think if I had made that second one, I really do have a feeling that Retief wouldn't have had trouble getting down in two to win. I'm not hanging my head at all. I hung in there probably better than a lot of people thought I would. And maybe even better than I thought I would. And I gave myself really a darn good chance at the end. So I'm not hanging my head one bit. I'm not going to look back and say I missed a two-footer to get myself into the playoff in the U.S. Open. I'm going to look back and say I made a great effort from 12 feet to tie.
 
Q. Stewart, you said you approached that second putt sort of as if it didn't really mean that much, you took it for granted that Retief was going to make his. If that scenario presented itself again, I think you'd think back and say --
 
STEWART CINK: Well, that scenario is never going to present itself again, I have a feeling. I know what you mean, and I've played enough golf to know that that's the case. It's not like I wasn't trying to make that one. I just didn't feel like it was a crucial one, and so it was very tough for me. I don't know, I can't really explain it. I felt a little bit shaky on it -- it's tough to explain. And in the situation again maybe I'll take a little more time. It's not like I hurried it. I marked it and everything. Just a strange thing. But I'm looking back at this tournament on a lot more good stuff than I saw bad stuff out of me. I proved a lot to myself.
 
Q. What went through you when he missed his?
 
STEWART CINK: It took me a little while to realize that I had lost the chance to be in a playoff, too. I was feeling pretty bad for him right there, because not only is that something that can really wreck your confidence, but it's also fairly embarrassing. It's a major championship. And it really didn't dawn on me until after he had putted out and made the next one that that meant I was one shot back of the final playoff score. But like I said, I have very strong faith that he would have found a way to get it down in two if I had made a little one.
 
Q. How stunned were you that he did 3-putt?
 
STEWART CINK: I'm stunned beyond words. I just -- he was so solid on the greens all week, and I've played with him many times, and he's been incredibly solid on the greens. I have no explanation at all for it.
 
Q. Is that the strangest finish you've ever seen?
 
STEWART CINK: I think it might be. I only saw us two play it. I didn't see what happened in the earlier groups, but it was strange. And I think -- I'm not the only one in the group that would like to have it over.
 
Q. Just a full rerun?
 
STEWART CINK: Yeah.
 
Q. Had you missed anything like that all week?
 
STEWART CINK: No, I hadn't. And that's why it's kind of difficult to explain. I'd been really solid on the greens, and I hadn't even been touching the sides of them, I'd been just putting them in the middle. I had a tough time really concentrating and focusing on that one.
 
Q. Can he come back from that tomorrow?
 
STEWART CINK: He'll come back from it. He's got a lot of game and he hits the ball pretty straight. He hits a lot of fairways. So I think it's going to be very entertaining tomorrow.
 
Q. You said that you learned a lot about yourself. What is it you learned about yourself?
 
STEWART CINK: Well, I learned that with a major championship on the line, going into the last round tied for the lead that I can hang right in there. And it's the first time for me, being that close, and so I'll take a lot out of that and know that next time in that same situation that there's no reason not to have 110 percent faith in my abilities.
 
Q. You were worried about his confidence from here on in, never yours?
 
STEWART CINK: No, I'm not worried about mine. Like I said, the putt that I wanted to make really bad was the first one, and I really made a good try there and thought I made the putt. And then the next one, it kind of happened so quickly that it's almost hard to recall what was going on there.
 
Q. What was it like, just straight in?
 
STEWART CINK: Straight in pretty much. The hole is cut on a mound, and so I guess if you miss it right or left it's going to break that direction. I guess I just kind of pushed it and, I don't know --
 
Q. Why do you think he'd have knocked it in?
 
STEWART CINK: I just have a really strong belief that some things are meant to happen and some things are not meant to happen. And I just have a feeling that he would have found a way to do it there.
 
Q. What words describe what your stomach feels like right now?
 
STEWART CINK: You know, I feel good right now. I don't feel down. You would think I'd feel pretty bad about what just happened. And I don't. I don't feel bad at all.
 
Q. Do you think that tomorrow you'll just beat the hell out of a lamp or something?
 
STEWART CINK: No, I don't. I can handle this. This is golf. We're talking about a game, here. I can handle it.
 
Q. What did you say to Retief after the round?
 
STEWART CINK: I told him I enjoyed playing with him, I thought he played well and I wished him the best of luck for tomorrow. We didn't talk much about what happened on that green.
 
Q. Do you think that Mark will have an edge tomorrow, given the fact that he's won a major before?
 
STEWART CINK: No, I don't think that gives him an edge at all, because -- well, I think he made a 5 on the last hole, too, gave us a chance, kind of, there. So, no, I don't believe he's got an edge because of that win, it's been a few years. And it's just going to be very interesting tomorrow.
 
Q. It's possibly a mental edge, though, considering how close Retief was to winning the golf tournament, two feet away?
 
STEWART CINK: I think if anything he might feel like he's got nine lives like a cat. He's got a chance -- he was probably packing his stuff when he saw Retief hitting it ten feet, and that it wasn't a downhill putt, he had an uphill 10-footer. I thought Mark Brooks probably thought he was second place or third place, because I was at 5-under, too. So Mark is thinking right now probably that he's been given a gift and he's got a chance to take advantage of that. But just because he's feeling that way doesn't make this course any easier and the pressure of a playoff in a major championship any easier. It's going to be hard to handle.
 
Q. Some others described this as an opportunity lost, do you feel that way?
 
STEWART CINK: I don't really feel -- I feel like I had a good chance at making a par on the last hole from where I was, obviously in the fairway, and then missing the green, there, I still thought I had a good chance shot at getting up-and-down. And I misread the lie there a little bit. So really, if I had to go back and start over at some point, I'd probably go back to the chip, because I didn't really get the results I wanted to out of the chip. So I had an opportunity to get up-and-down and make a par there for a chance to go on and play more. I missed that opportunity. So that's where I feel like if there's any opportunity that I lost --
 
Q. You don't look at it as a big picture opportunity lost, you try to focus down on --
 
STEWART CINK: No, I'm not looking at it like that. Big picture is I feel pretty comfortable coming down the stretch. I felt more comfortable on the back 9 today than on the front 9 on Thursday. I felt really at ease and calm, and I felt confident in all my strokes and shots in the fairways and off the tees and everything. I felt better coming into the last few holes than I did going off the first few Thursday. And that's something I'll draw off of for a long time.