Stewart Cink Talks with B/R About Golf, Tiger Woods and Twitter
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to talk with PGA Tour veteran Stewart Cink.
Best known for his victory at the 2009 British Open, Cink has also notched a top-three finish in each of the other three majors.
While we began the interview discussing the golf clinics he is a part of, we quickly moved to more pressing topics.
Being a huge golf fan, I wanted to know the same things you want to know. Over the course of the interview, I asked Cink about his take on American golf, Tiger Woods and Cink's chances of performing well at the upcoming PGA Championship.
1. The State of American Golf
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It is no secret that American golf is struggling to perform on the big stage. To find the last American winner of a major, we have to go back to the 2010 Masters, when Phil Mickelson took home the green jacket.
Like many golfers, Cink views the European dominance as something that will change with time. "It runs in a cycle," Cink stated.
Thus, while the United States dominated golf for a few years, it is now other countries who may run the table.
Cink explained, "The rest of the world is producing a growing number of great players. The U.S. has lagged a little bit behind in production of golfers. Now you're seeing that change a little bit and they [European golfers] are surging."
That explanation is as good as any. It is plausible and gives hope that it will only be a matter of time before American golf is back on top.
2. On the Recent Success of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland has been on quite the run in the last six majors. Going back to the 2010 U.S. Open, three of the last six major trophies have been taken home by Ulstermen.
Graeme McDowell started the run, Rory McIlroy kept it going and Darren Clarke helped put Northern Ireland back on the golf power map with his recent British Open victory.
According to Cink, "Those guys [McDowell, McIlroy and Clarke] are feeding off a couple things. Number one, the Ryder Cup. They have won a lot, and they are gaining confidence from that."
The second thing each are thriving off of is the success of the others. "Darren Clarke saw what those guys did and said 'if they can do it, I can do it.'"
3. On Winning His Own British Open
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Much like the three players from Northern Ireland, Cink fed off the energy of other players to capture his first, and so far only, major title at the 2009 British Open.
"One of my best friends, Lucas Glover, just won the previous major, and I thought if he could do it, I could do it," Cink says.
And while Glover may have shown Cink that he had the talent to win on the big stage, confidence was another huge factor in his victory.
Cink further explains, "I didn't have any reason to back down whatsoever when I got in that position at Turnberry. Winning a major sometimes is all about having the confidence and lack of fear to step through that hoop."
4. On the Upcoming PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club
Cink is a man of the South. He grew up in Huntsville, Ala., and went to college at Georgia Tech. So having this year's PGA Championship in the South means a lot to Cink.
"It's a home game for me. It's eight miles from my house," Cink says about the tournament, which will take place at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Another perk about playing near home is the fans. "It'll be great to play in front of my fans here. It's pretty rare in golf and I always look forward to it," Cink explains.
While Cink is looking forward to playing near his family and friends, Atlanta Athletic Club is not a course with which he is very familiar.
Cink had this to say about the course: "I haven't played there that much. They have changed the golf course quite a bit. They changed the grass on the greens from bent to Bermuda [grass]."
He then added: "I'm not sure what to think about the golf course, because I haven't played there in a long time, but I plan on playing there in the next couple of weeks."
5. On Tiger Woods' Return to Golf
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Even when he isn't playing, Tiger Woods is the talk of the tour. Everyone wants to know as much as possible about Woods and whether or not he will tee it up again this season.
Talking about Woods' possible return this year, Cink said, "It is hard to say [whether he will return this year] because so few people really know what is going on. It is hard to know. I mean, I know the same as you do."
Cink then added: "It sounds like his leg is kinda in rough shape, and he might be off for the rest of the year. I wouldn't be surprised if he were, but then again, I wouldn't be surprised to see him turn up at the PGA [Championship] and be playing great."
6. On Tiger's Assault at Jack Nicklaus' Major Record
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It is the pinnacle of golf. The number everyone strives to reach.
Tiger is currently only four away from Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors, but never has that gap seemed so large. Until recently, the question was when Tiger will surpass Nicklaus. Now, it is if Tiger reaches 19 majors.
"Every year that passes makes that [surpassing Nicklaus] more difficult," Cink states.
Cink further explained his reasoning by saying, "The one thing that really separated Tiger from the other players in the field was, he had that sense of belief that he couldn't lose. Every tournament he doesn't win, that sense of belief is eroded away a little bit."
And although it may seem like an uphill battle for Tiger to grab the major record, Cink is adamant that we can never doubt the guy. "We should never be surprised by anything he [Tiger Woods] does. He proved that when he won majors by 15 shots and challenged all the records. I don't think it's right for anybody to say, 'Oh, Tiger is done,' because he will prove you wrong."
7. On Twitter
Stewart Cink was really the first golfer to use social networking to connect with his fans. And, as a follower of his on Twitter, I am very glad he did.
With over one million fans now, Cink successfully uses Twitter to interact with fans in ways he otherwise would not have the opportunity to do.
Cink had this to say about the role of Twitter: "For me personally, the future is direct, unfiltered content. And I see the traditional media will be rendered less important."
He then added this about why he uses the social media giant: "It gives the fans someone to identify with. Hey, I'm an average dude. I just happen to be able to play golf a whole lot better than you guys."
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