SAN DIEGO – Nobody wants to get beat on Sunday at Torrey Pines.
PGA Tour pros don’t like losing, but if somebody’s going to beat them, there’s one guy a lot of them would relish seeing hoist the trophy.
There is a scene that might make the toughest of them cry here after the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
Stewart Cink is only playing this week because his wife, Lisa, is here walking every hole with him.
She is battling Stage 4 breast cancer.
Cink, 43, is giving her a lot to cheer about this week. He put up a 3-under-par 69 Saturday to move two shots off the lead.
If Cink wins Sunday, it will be packed with more raw emotion than his British Open triumph was eight years ago. That was the last of his six PGA Tour titles.
Lisa is feeling good, Cink said, feeling strong now, but the battle’s ongoing. She scheduled a monoclonal antibody treatment Monday at UC San Diego Hospital so she could be here this week. It was a three-and-a-half-hour procedure that’s part of the second phase of her treatment regimen.
“I don't think any guy out here is not rooting for Stewart,” said Brandt Snedeker, who is tied for the lead. “We all want to see him do well, and, hopefully, see Lisa hug him on the 18th green when he wins again. That would be a special moment.”
Lisa didn’t require surgery after being diagnosed with breast cancer last April, but she required chemotherapy, finishing the treatments in October. She lost her hair, and she’s wearing a wig when she’s out following Cink, or in public, though Stewart says her hair’s coming back nicely.
“My wife prays with my kids every night about Lisa,” Snedeker said. “It's a close family out here, we're all kind of part of the same group. We understand that guys have stuff off the golf course that's really serious, and she's been through a ton.”
Cink is inspired by Lisa’s strength and grace in this battle. Snedeker says he is inspired by what Stewart’s doing at Lisa’s side.
“Stewart's attitude and demeanor through the whole process . . . to see what kind of guy he is has been is unbelievable,” Snedeker said. “It kind of makes us all want to be better guys, to see his attitude and the way he's handled everything. To see him playing better and better now, is, hopefully a reflection of how Lisa's feeling, that she's doing better.”
Cink played one event without Lisa last year after she was diagnosed, but he couldn’t stand being away from her during her recovery. He won’t play now unless Lisa is able to make the trip to a tournament with him. He said having her on Tour motivates him.
“I've learned so much from Lisa about how to fight,” Cink said. “She's really been valiant with her struggle and her battle, and I figured if she can do that much, and be that disciplined, then why can't I? It's a little different when we're talking about cancer versus golf, but, still, we're both seeking something that's serious, that we're serious about.”
Lisa is a large part of Cink’s golf life. She was long before she was sick. So being out on tour is good for her, too, Stewart said. They were a team on tour before cancer tried to break them up.
“It's had a little bit of an effect on my golf, because I've been playing a little bit better and it's been more fun and it's been a different kind of fun out here for me,” Cink said. “I would say that's been a very positive impact on my golf out here.”
Cink said the friendships on Tour, and the Christian brotherhood they are part of, has helped them.
“I'm just playing from a really good, solid sense of peace right now,” Cink said. “That may sound surprising, because of what we've been through off the course. Our faith has been tested and has been hardened and firmed up, to the point where I feel like it's with me everywhere, and that includes the golf course. It doesn't matter, the 76s or the 66s feel kind of the same and that's what I'm after.”
In about two weeks, Lisa will meet with her doctors to get a new update on the progress of her battle.
“Right now, she's feeling well” Stewart said. “Day to day, she's very grateful, just like I am, and we're doing fine.”