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May 26, 2023

Cink contending in first Champions Tour event

By Gregg Dewalt, Alabama Golf News Editor
Stewart Cink at the Heritage

He trails the leader by four strokes

Just two rounds into his PGA Tour Champions debut and Stewart Cink already is showing he’ll be a factor on the over-50 tour if and when he decides to make the transition full time.

On Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Tour Championship, Cink shot his second consecutive 4-under 68 and moved up two spots into third place. He trails leader Padraig Harrington by four strokes.

No matter what the results are over the weekend, Stewart Cink, who owns one major championship trophy over his 28 seasons, reiterated he’s still focused on the PGA Tour and that the Champions Tour will only be something to dabble with until he decides he can’t compete with the young guns anymore. The immediate plan is to concentrate trying to get into the PGA Tour’s new “designated” events.

“The big thing is I want to get in those and I’m not anywhere near – I’m going to have to have a heck of a summer to get in those, but I want to try to get in those give myself a chance,” he said after Friday’s round.

Cink said he is looking forward to eventually playing full time on the Champions Tour, just not right now.

Stewart Cink: My focus is on PGA Tour

“I think if I just converted to this tour right away and played the rest of the summer, and just didn’t give myself any chance to get into those big tournaments I think I would look back and say, why didn’t I at least give it a shot,” he said. “And if I go out there and fall on my face and don’t do anything, then I’ll be 50 at the end of the fall, at the end of the FedExCup. Once you turn 50 you don’t ever turn back 49. So, I’ll have this to play in for a while. But I really want to give myself a chance to play in those designated events next year. I think that would be amazing.”

And if he doesn’t get into those designated, big-money tournaments next year?

 “If I don’t get in those, I think the writing might be on the wall that I’ll be playing a lot more PGA TOUR Champions events,” he said. “But I’m going to give it a go this summer.”

This weekend, though, his attention is squarely on adding to his trophy collection. He’s not surprised to be in contention even though he has made only eight of 16 cuts this year on the PGA Tour. Cink said his game has been trending upward in recent weeks. And going from the one of the oldest players on one tour to the youngest on the Champions Tour can provide some positive energy.

“It’s hard to explain but I think professional golf is, you’re always like on the knife edge from being like setting the world on fire to setting your house on fire,” he said. “It’s not that great a difference from contending and finish top 10 and being in the mix a lot of times, to trying to figure some things out and shooting 72 and going home on the weekend. So, one shift in the mentality is when you go from feeling like an old guy who is out to pasture against all the stars to feeling like the youngest and literally being the youngest guy in the field, I think naturally you flip your mentality and suddenly you feel like a world beater again.”

Had Cink been able to get into the Charles Schwab Challenge being played a couple of hours up the road from Frisco, Texas, he likely wouldn’t be in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

“I would say the priority for me choosing to play here was I just turned 50, I was borderline getting into (Colonial), and if I wasn’t going to be in that, I was going to play here,” he said. “It really didn’t matter that it was a major to me. It mattered more that it was like right after my 50th birthday and it was in a place where I thought it would be an interesting place to come and play here at this course.”

He is undecided about the rest of his summer schedule but it will likely consist mostly of PGA Tour events.

“I just wanted to kind of get my feet wet early and I don’t know that I’m going to play that much more PGA Tour Champions golf this summer,” he said. “I might play a few, but for the most part focus on the PGA Tour and play through the rest of the FedExCup and see where I land after that. The fall may look a little different.”

Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News

Have a story idea or a news item to report to Alabama Golf News? Email bamagolfnews@gmail.com

Featured image courtesy of the PGA Tour Champions

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