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Returning to form: Cink seeks first win since Open

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HUMBLE, Texas – Perhaps this was the golf gods’ way of getting back at Stewart Cink after he defeated 59-year-old Tom Watson in the 2009 Open Championship. Or maybe more realistically, it was Cink’s inability to reclaim that major-winning game that helped him secure the claret jug.

Whatever the case, the numbers don’t lie.

In 81 starts on the PGA Tour since winning his lone major, Cink owns just six top-10 finishes. That includes last year’s 0-for-22 record and this year, when he has one – a T-10 at the Humana Challenge – in eight previous starts.

Well, maybe those golf gods have finally relented, or maybe Cink finally has his game back to an elite level. Through three rounds at the Shell Houston Open, he owns a share of the lead with Bill Haas, searching for his first win since that title.

“I'll be nervous and I definitely will not be ignoring the fact that I'll feel a little bit nervous tomorrow, but that's just natural human behavior and I'm looking forward to it,” said Cink, who is seeking his seventh career victory. “To get back in the hunt is what you play golf for when you're out on the PGA Tour. It's a lot of fun and hard work, but I can't wait.”

After opening scores of 71-66, Cink posted a third-round 68 that featured a 15-foot birdie putt as the turning point.

“I hit the ball so well on the first six holes and got nothing out of it,” he explained. “Had some opportunities for birdies and didn't make putts. I was kind of starting to come on, and then so I made about a 15-footer on 7. Pretty nondescript putt, it won't make anybody else's highlight reel. But today that was my highlight reel. When that ball went in the front edge and sort of opened things up, I calmed down a little bit and off we went. So, sometimes those little things that happen during the day mean a lot, more than the scoreboard could indicate.”