PGA Tour professional Stewart Cink hit a milestone recently when he made his 600th career start on tour at the RSM Classic in Sea Island, Ga.
Cink, who was born in Huntsville and grew up in Florence, talked with the media before the first round of the RSM Classic last week. His victory at the Safeway Classic earlier this season was his seventh on tour and first since he took down Tom Watson at the 2009 Open Championship.
He currently is among the FedEx Cup points leaders. During his 20-minute question-and-answer session, he tackled topics such as what he’ll remember 2020 for, the decision to make his son Reagan his fulltime caddie for the rest of the year and he and wife Lisa’s COVID battle in March.
Here’s Part One from his media session:
Q: What’s going right with you to start the season?
Stewart Cink: Golfwise, we are all so close out here – even the 47-year-olds can compete. If you just elevate a couple areas of your game and get just a little bit better, then you can find yourself in contention or winning or having some consistent runs. If you go the other way, you find yourself on the other side of the cut or having a bunch of 50th-place finishes. It’s just that close out here. If you can find just a little bit of tiny extra performance, you can pass a lot of people. I was able to find a little bit of extra performance in my game before Safeway started.
As I sat out the Fed Ex playoffs in the last season, I was determined to try to get a little more and I was able to find something that translated immediately. It was really amazing.
Q: What has gotten into the water in that you and Sergio (Garcia) and Brian Gay are winning all of the sudden. What’s going on?
Stewart Cink: I don’t know what’s going on other than the fact that golf sort of lends itself to success later in your life. One of those special types of sports that physically, you can keep going. Where I think you struggle more in your middle-to-late 40s is not necessarily physically, because you can take care of yourself physically – look at Bernhard Langer. But mentally, I think it gets a little harder to lock down that focus. You let other things in life bother you. It’s a little easier to have that “give up” mentality. You have to fight that stuff. It’s a different type of challenge than it was when I was 27 now that I am 47. Just like any type of challenge, there is a way to attack it and try to move past it. Sometimes you have to live with it and perform with it and do the best you can.
Q: How did you personally fight it?
Stewart Cink: I’ve not been exempt from any of the kind of challenges other golfers face. The biggest step for me has always been understanding it. I am a “why” kind of person. I like to know why things are happening. Why I behave a certain way and get to the root of why things are going on. When I understand that, it makes it easier to see a path forward. If I am putting poorly, if I am driving poorly, if I am getting more nervous than I used to or something like that, I have to understand why first and then we can go forward. That’s been a big key for me throughout my career.
Q: Can you take me through your caddie change? (Kip Henley was Cink’s regular caddie, but son Reagan was on the bag when he won the Safeway tournament in California and also in Bermuda where he had a top-five finish):
Stewart Cink: We finished high in Bermuda and we didn’t have to leave until Monday, so we were sitting around the room with nothing to do. Reagan was there and my wife (Lisa) was there. You know how nothing good happens with idle time and idle hands? We were sitting around and it was like, ‘Hey, this has been really fun.’ You are supposed to go back to work next week, but maybe this is the right time for you to push back work for a year. I like you caddying and I think you are having a good time, and you are good at it. It’s nice to spend time with our son, so he got it worked out with Delta Airlines that he could push his job back. He’ll go to work next year after he gets married in July and he’ll caddie the rest of this season. A change for us, but it’s something I am looking forward to and I think he is too.
Q: How much do you credit the way you have been playing to having him on the bag?
Stewart Cink: I credit it a lot. He’s not just a guest caddie; he’s not just a family member out there carrying the bag. He understands golf really well; he understands me. He has been a real asset to me in a little bit of an intangible kind of way. I feel really calm out there with him. I know when he is standing across with the bag and after we have made our decision that he has full trust and 100 percent confidence that I am going to be able to do what we just talked about doing. That is just a big asset in knowing that your caddie is behind you and believes in you and also has that unconditional relationship with you in that if it goes great, it goes great. If it doesn’t, we are still father and son. It has helped me be calm and be confident and really just kind of be myself.
Q: How would you assess this year?
Stewart Cink: When I think back to 2020, I am going probably have better feelings about it than most of the world’s population because 2020 hasn’t been that kind to many of us. But there have definitely been some bright spots. Both my kids have gotten engaged this year. My wife and I both had COVID in March, and she being a Stage 4 cancer in treatment right now, that was a big deal to us that she had it and went right through it. That is something we will remember for sure, the nervousness of it. And my win in the Safeway and having Reagan sort of transition into caddying for me. We hope to have a really great experience between now and the rest of the season. That is something I don’t think any parent would want to miss out on – it’s such a unique opportunity. 2020 will give us some great memories and some relief, but also like the rest of us 2020 has stunk.
To be continued.
Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News.
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