Cink eager to get to Open Championship

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SILVIS, Ill. – Stewart Cink is eager to jump on the private charter flight after the John Deere Classic Sunday night to go to next week’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Cink, winner of the ’09 British Open at Turnberry, will enjoy the embrace British golf fans give their champs.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, if you win the Open Championship, you earn their respect,” Cink said. “It’s really special to go back, even though it will be to a different site. There will be a lot of people in the stands who were at Turnberry and will remember what happened that day. They have the best golf fans in the world. No disrespect to the golf fans here, but when they say on TV the golf fans over there are knowledgeable, they’re not just saying that. They remember all the championships, going way, way back. It’s always good reception.”

Cink, 39, continues the hard work of piecing together a new swing, an overhaul he hopes will lead to a return to winning form. The six-time PGA Tour winner has been committed to a new swing under the tutorship of Chris O’Connell since late last year.

“Royal Lytham & St. Annes is a phenomenal course,” Cink said. “All of those British Open courses really have a way of letting you know how you’re playing. They teach you a little bit every day, about what you need to be doing differently.”

Cink hasn’t won since his British Open breakthrough and has endured a steady slip in his money-ranking as he has sought to improve. As high as fifth on the money list in ’04 and ninth in ’08, he is 122nd on the money list this week.

There's progress, if not yet a big breakthrough. Cink is coming off a tie for 22nd at the AT&T National. He tied for 25th at Memorial and tied for 15th at Wells Fargo. Cink hopes his swing changes will lead to his best golf in his 40s, much the way Steve Stricker’s changes did. Stricker is seeking his fourth consecutive John Deere Classic title this week.

“I’m trying to get settled in to some pretty big swing changes,” Cink said. “I really committed to changing everything back in December. Physically, I understand it, but emotionally, I want to go back to the old stuff a little bit. When you’re caught in between, it’s not good. I am trying to commit and take every shot as if it is a brand new ballgame.”

Cink could relate watching Tiger Woods get caught between old and new swings.

“His self belief is pretty high, probably all-time highest,” Cink said. “Mine hasn’t been quite so high. That’s the big difference between us. But I know when I swing like I want to, I’ve never hit it better. I just haven’t put it all together this year. It may still be awhile. I’m kind of prepared for a long battle.”

The Brits will be rooting him on in that battle next week.