Easy Ryder Cink Wins NEC by Four

By Sports NetworkAugust 22, 2004, 4:00 pm
AKRON, Ohio -- Stewart Cink birdied the 72nd hole Sunday for an even-par 70 and a four-shot victory at the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational. He finished four rounds at 11-under-par 269 and capped off a spectacular week.
 
On Monday, Hal Sutton chose him as one of his captain's selections for the United States Ryder Cup team. This week, Cink became the first player in 2004 to go wire-to-wire with no other player sharing a piece of the lead after any round.
 
'It means a lot for those reasons,' said Cink.
 
Cink won in Hilton Head earlier this year and became the seventh multiple winner this season, joining Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Todd Hamilton, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia.
 
This was Cink's fourth victory on the PGA Tour and the first time in seven tries he finished atop the leaderboard after holding a piece of the 54-hole lead.
 
'It's a situation I haven't been really successful with in the past. I downplayed it a little bit yesterday, but I knew it,' said Cink, who pocketed $1,260,000 for the win. 'I feel great to be champion here.'
 
Tiger Woods, who could have been overtaken atop the World Ranking by big weeks from either Singh or Els, hit the driver better than he did on Saturday. Woods birdied the last for a 1-under 69 and a share of second place with Rory Sabbatini, who carded a final-round 68. The two were knotted at 7-under-par 273.
 
Woods never mounted a challenge to Cink on Sunday at Firestone as Woods' new Ryder Cup teammate held a five-shot lead at the start of the final round. Woods bogeyed the first, then came back with a birdie at two. He bogeyed No. 8 and once again responded with a birdie at the very next hole.
 
But Woods' driver abandoned him at both the 13th and 16th holes. He was able to get up and down for pars, but never got closer than four to Cink's lead. It was Woods' birdie at the last that gave him his best finish since his lone victory this year at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
'Today I didn't make a run at him,' admitted Woods. 'I had to at least get to double digits (under par) midway through the back nine to have a chance. I fight. I go out there and give my best.'
 
Woods' best was enough to extend his record number of total weeks atop the World Rankings to 333, but it was not enough to catch Cink.
 
Cink parred his first four holes, before rolling in a 25-foot birdie putt at the par-3 fifth. That gave him a six-shot lead, the largest he would have on Sunday.
 
Cink drove into the trees on the left at the sixth and made bogey. He parred his final three holes on the front side, but dropped a shot at 10. Cink drove in the left rough at that hole and missed the green short. He chipped to 4 feet, but missed left and thanks to three birdies in a row by Sabbatini, the lead was only three.
 
Sabbatini never regained the form that saw him birdie three in a row from the sixth. He did throw a scare in Cink when he drained a 30-foot birdie putt at 14, but bogeys at 15 and 17 meant Cink had the title all but wrapped up.
 
Cink iced the victory at the closing hole. He ran in a 10-footer for birdie to close out the tournament.
 
Now Cink, who missed a 2-footer on the 72nd hole at the 2001 U.S. Open that would have put him in the playoff with Retief Goosen and Mark Brooks, believes there is more to look forward to.
 
'I think my potential is just starting to be realized,' said Cink, who defeated Ted Purdy in a playoff for the win at Hilton Head. 'I hope anyway. I felt comfortable today and many more I hope.'
 
Davis Love III fired a 4-under 66 and tied for fourth place with Angel Cabrera of Argentina, who shot a 68 on Sunday. The duo tied at 6-under-par 274.
 
Chris DiMarco, who lost to Singh in the playoff last week at the PGA Championship, and David Toms struggled to rounds of 1-over 71. They tied for sixth place with Bob Tway, who posted a 68 in the final round, at 5-under-par 275.
 
Alex Cejka (66), Stuart Appleby (68), Lee Westwood (69), Robert Allenby (69) and Charles Howell III (70) shared ninth place at minus-4.
 
Singh shot an even-par 70 on Sunday and shared 32nd at plus-3, while reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson carded a 72 in the final round and finished the tournament at 5-over-par 285.
 
Els carded a 2-over 72 and tied for 65th at plus-13.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - WGC-NEC Invitational
  • Full Coverage - WGC-NEC Invitational
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    Ryu thriving again after simple advice from Inbee Park

    By Randall MellJune 21, 2018, 7:07 pm

    So Yeon Ryu shared Rolex Player of the Year honors last year.

    She reigned as world No. 1 for almost five months.

    So when she couldn’t keep her momentum going at year’s start, she got frustrated. She wasn’t happy with two top 10s in her first 11 starts.

    “I lost a lot of confidence at the beginning of the year,” Ryu said Thursday as she prepared to lead a strong field as the defending champion in Friday’s start of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. “My expectation level was way too high.”

    So she sought the counsel of her pal, world No. 1 Inbee Park, who gave her some plain-spoken advice.


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    “Get over it,” Park told her. “You know what to do. You’ve done it, so it’s not really a big deal. Don’t worry about it. You were No. 1. You’ve achieved a lot of things as a professional golfer. Just don’t be too hard on yourself.”

    Ryu got over it winning the Meijer LPGA Classic last week, the sixth LPGA title of her career, her third in 15 months. She’s feeling good again leading a stellar field this week at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., a strong tune up before next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the year’s third major championship.

    World No. 1 Park, No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson are among the top nine players in the world scheduled to compete this week. Twenty-four of the top 30 are in the field.

    “When you come to defend your title, you obviously have a lot of pressure, but after I won last week, now I sort of think, maybe I have a chance to defend my title,” Ryu said. “So I've got total confidence, by last week.”

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    Watch: Spieth, JT hole bunker shots in back-to-back groups

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 6:57 pm

    Jordan Spieth has a thing for holing bunker shots at the Travelers Championship, where he made one in a playoff to win last year.

    He did it again in Round 1 at TPC River Highlands, knocking in this shot for eagle at the par-5 sixth to reach 4 under par for the tournament



    In the next group, Justin Thomas did the same thing to reach 1 under. Keep an eye out for the best part of this highlight, when Thomas' caddie Jimmy Johnson tries to hand him his putter.

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    River Highlands a 'breather' for Zach Johnson (63)

    By Will GrayJune 21, 2018, 6:43 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After enduring the pressure-cooker of the U.S. Open, Zach Johnson was more than happy to drift north to the friendly confines of TPC River Highlands.

    Birdies were rare last week at Shinnecock Hills, but they’ll be plentiful all week long at the Travelers Championship. Browned-out and crispy conditions transitioned to lush and verdant, and players can attack flags without fear of turning a possible par into a struggle to avoid triple.

    Johnson did just that in the opening round, carding eight birdies against a single bogey to take the early lead with a 7-under 63.

    “It’s a different kind of breathing. It’s a different kind of exhaling, if you will, but they’re both good,” Johnson said. “You can put some red on the board here. We know that. We’ve seen it. You can go the other way in a hurry if you press it; it can keep going in the other way. So you kind of have to let it happen. This is one of those courses where you have to let it happen.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Like many in this week’s field, Johnson took it easy after a grueling major championship, staying away from the course Monday and easing into his prep over the next two days. Those decisions paid off quickly as he rattled off six straight birdies on Nos. 11-16 to take sole possession of the lead.

    While Johnson tied for 12th last week at Shinnecock Hills, that was just his second top-15 finish since the Sony Open in January. But the veteran is no stranger to fast starts at TPC River Highlands, having now opened with 65 or better four times in his last eight appearances dating back to 2011.

    It’s a course where he continues to have success, even if his past consistency hasn’t lived up to expectations.

    “I feel like every time I get here it feels like I should shoot nothing, and it bites me,” Johnson said. “The last couple years I’m like, ‘All right, you can’t have any expectations in that regard. You’ve just got to go out and execute, you know, put the ball in the fairway and you will have opportunities.’” 

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    First photos from Norman's 'Body' shoot

    By Grill Room TeamJune 21, 2018, 6:35 pm

    It was revealed earlier this week that Greg Norman would be one of the athletes showcased in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features the models stategically posed in the nude.

    Well, the first photos are out from Norman's shoot and ... here they are, if you want them.