CROMWELL, Conn.—Heading into last year’s Travelers Championship, there were few players on the PGA Tour hotter than Stewart Cink.
Cink had five top-10 finishes in his first 13 events in 2008, finished second to Tiger Woods at the Accenture Match Play Championship, and had flirted with victory several other times.
Cink shot an 18-under-par 262 at last year’s Travelers Championship and edged out Hunter Mahan and Tommy Armour III by a stroke to capture his first PGA Tour victory in nearly four years.
However, instead of building off his win at the Travelers Championship, Cink headed the opposite direction and is still trying to reclaim last year's form.
Cink did not finish inside of the top 10 at any tournament during the remainder of the 2008 season, and, so far in 2009, Cink has had just one top-10 finish in a stroke-play event, which came three weeks ago at the Memorial.
"I feel like I'm in a different place than I was last year, because I came in here last year with a ton of really good finishes and no wins to speak of," Cink said during his Wednesday morning press conference at the Travelers Championship. "And this year I come in here with very few good finishes on the year and no wins to speak of."
Following his win at the 2008 Travelers Championship, Cink moved up to No. 8 in the World Golf rankings; he has since dropped to 26th.
As the defending champion of this week’s event, which is taking place in Cromwell, Conn., Cink will be looking to regain his form.
"I'm just drawing off the great memories I had last year where I outlasted everybody," he said. "I know I can do it...So I'll be at a slight advantage just because my memories of winning are most recent here than anyone else."
Cink has experienced a lot of success at TPC River Highlands over the years.
In 11 career appearances, Cink has won the Travelers Championship twice (1997, 2008), has a scoring average of 68.24, and is a cumulative 74 under par.
Thirty-four of Cink’s 42 career rounds at the Travelers Championship have been par or better, and he has earned nearly $1.9 million in Cromwell over the course of his career.
Cink, who has been using a long putter for years, recently switched back to a standard length putter in the hopes of finding more consistency on the greens.
"I decided I had two weeks off, and I was going to just scrap everything," he said. "And the way I described it yesterday to someone was like I was a toxic dump. And I scraped off the layer of soil that had the mess in it.
"Put down a protective fabric, and now I'm feeling it in with the correct topsoil. So I feel the best way for me to totally accomplish that goal is to go away from the long putter. Because it's so easy when you change your mental process and your pre-shot routine, and you really scrap everything and throw it on the heap.
"It's easier if you don't change the putter, to sneak back in there if you get under pressure or doubtful about your new stuff. So I decided the right way to do it was to throw everything on the trash heap, including the putter, and start over fresh. So here we are."
With a little more than half of the season complete, Cink is currently 41st on the Tour’s money list and 47th in FedEx Cup points. Not terrible by any means, but not the type of numbers Stewart Cink is accustomed to.
Perhaps returning to a course he knows well and has experienced a lot of success at over the years will be just what Cink needs to get back on track.
“But without trying to put too much pressure on myself here, I love playing here and feel like my golf game is getting there, so we'll see,” he said.