What they said: Stewart CinkDecember 02, 2009
PGA TOUR staff
MORE INTERVIEWS: Chevron World Challenge transcript archive
DOUG MILNE: Stewart Cink, thanks for joining us for a few minutes here at the Chevron World Challenge. We appreciate your time. Obviously a banner year for you, captured your first major championship title at Turnberry, playoff over Tom Watson earlier this year. In addition to that you had a number of other top-10 finishes, I think a couple of them at World Golf Championships events. So obviously a great year. If you could just maybe just kind of recap your year a little bit for us and just kind of what you're looking forward to as you head into this weekend and the off season and then we'll take a few questions.
STEWART CINK: Thanks. This year was a little unlike my usual. It was a little bit more feast and famine than my usual career years have been, but obviously the win at the British Open covered up a lot of the famine part of the year, which was nice.
But there's a lot of things that I would like to improve on in my game, and it seems like the older I get and the longer I play out here, you would think you iron out the rough spots, but I think for me it's more of the opposite. I more identify areas where I need to get better, and I think this year was a good example of that. Even though I got the win at the British Open, I think looking back on it, I think I did more identifying of weaknesses than covered up -- or covered up weaknesses, if that makes sense.
DOUG MILNE: Could you talk what are some of those weaknesses?
STEWART CINK: Well, my short game has just not been as good as I think it needs to be to be consistently competitive in a big tournament.
The harder the golf courses get and the more the pressure mounts, you know, you rely on your short game more and more, and mine just hasn't been as good as I want it to be.
So with new grooves coming this year, I think it's going to force me to have to improve because the clubs just don't have any forgiveness like they used to.
DOUG MILNE: OK. With that we'll open it up for a few questions.
Q. The question everybody's been asked all day, and I'm certain you're prepared for it. Your reaction to Tiger not being here and everything that's gone on with the Tiger Woods saga, if you will, the last few days.
STEWART CINK: Well, I know the fans were excited about Tiger playing, and with him not being here, that's unfortunate for them. Certainly they love watching Tiger play, and that won't change.
It's also very unfortunate for all the rumors or whatever that are swirling around out there about individuals, you know. I don't really know any more about it than anybody else. I probably know the less amount than anybody else in this room, to be honest with you. So I really don't know what to say, except that I just feel bad for their family that this is all happening.
Q. How surprised are you that it has garnered worldwide headlines??
STEWART CINK: Not at all because he's Tiger Woods, and he's probably the most recognizable sporting figure in the world in any sport. So I'm not surprised at all.
Q. Stewart, when things like this happen in a team sport, you know, the team comes together, they put their arms around the teammate and get through it. This is such an individual sport. Have you guys talked, have you thought about, you know, whether you would comfort him or talk to him or leave him alone or call him? How do you show him support in a highly individual sport?
STEWART CINK: It's hard when you don't have that built-in frame work of the team like in football and baseball, when you can sort of absorb yourself into the jersey. Out here you're an island. When you play great, you're an island. When you play poorly, you're an island; and when you have some attention off the course that you'd rather not have, then you're an island.
So I haven't really thought much about the way that I would approach that if I was, you know, as a friend to him, but to be honest, that time may come sometime. I don't know.
Q. Are you disappointed that you don't get to play head-to-head against him this weekend? I imagine when you look at your calendar and you see what's coming up, you think, all right, there's an opportunity to sort of compare my game to his at the moment?
STEWART CINK: Any time you play in the field with Tiger he is the measuring stick, and whether he plays great or not, you're always conscious of where he is in the field. So yeah, I'm disappointed not to be able to play against him, with him. I enjoy playing with him. I love watching him.
I'm a player, but also a big chunk of me is a golf fan, and I love seeing the stuff he does on the golf course. So yeah, I'm disappointed.
Q. Stewart, can you talk about what you've already done or what you will do to get ready for next year with the new grooves and how much of an impact you think that'll have next year??
STEWART CINK: I think it'll have an impact individually, but it should be proportionally spread out evenly among everybody. So it'll affect everybody about the same amount. So I really don't see a whole lot of change coming as far as the way -- I don't see one guy saying, these new grooves I just can't play with and another guy saying they don't have much effect. It's going to affect everybody pretty much the same way.
I've played with them. I've got them now all the way through my whole set. I'm 2010 ready. So this will be the first week I competitively play with the wedges, but I've messed around with them at home a little bit, and yeah, it's a change. It's quite different when anything other than a perfect dry lie is encountered.
STEWART CINK: Yeah. Well, I wanted to simulate what it was like to play with less grooves than the 2010 ones, so I put some duct tape over my wedges, and I played a round of golf and practiced with them for a week or so just to see what it was like with a zero spin, because with tape over the wedges, duct tape in fact, there's no spin; and it was really not fun to play golf that way. So I got used to that.
And the idea was that when I got the new grooves, that I would think, well, these spin the you-know-what out of it (laughs). And I quickly adjusted back to realizing that the new grooves don't spin it that great. But it was just a little bit of a trial, and you know, it's something to pass the time for me from not having the set of new grooves to play with because they were -- the companies all had a hard time getting those clubs out into the golfers' hands because of last-minute rule changes. And you can imagine what they go through just to build clubs. So to change it up like that, they had trouble getting them out to us.
And during that lead time when I was waiting for them, I just decided instead of practicing with the old grooves, I might as well start getting used to something that's more drastic than the new grooves, so hence the tape.
Q. Wedge shot??
STEWART CINK: It will because it'll just make you learn how to read lies better. You know, if it's perfect dry fairway lie, there's not going to be any difference, but when there's moisture on the ground, like dew or if it's raining or if you just have a lie that's maybe iffy, maybe a ball's muddy, that's when you have to start reading the lie.
There's two different kinds of shots, there's the kind of shots we've always hit that come out low with a lot of spin, and then there's the kind that slide up the club face and go real high with no spin, and you're going to have to learn to predict which one's coming.
Q. After the win at the Open championship, and obviously you addressed this, there were so many people pulling for Tom Watson to win. Seemed like maybe you didn't get --
STEWART CINK: They were? Thanks for telling me that.
Q. Surprisingly. I'm curious, though, as now the months have gone on away from that, do you feel like you've gotten now more the positive response that usually goes along with winning a major championship, that you've gotten more of the congratulations and that kind of thing??
STEWART CINK: I got it then, too. I'd say no, I don't feel like I've gotten more. I feel like I got plenty of that when it happened, and everybody that had a Tom Watson story was certainly kind about saying, we're really glad you won, too.
I didn't feel like there was any negative coming out of that at all, and it was just neat to be part of that story, and just happened to be even neater that I won, but I have not felt anything negative from it at all. Everybody that's said something about Watson has been very good-hearted about it, very real friendly. And I'm back and forth with people all the time anyway, so it's been a lot of fun.
Q. Personally, Stewart, is there any concern that you've just said the perception that Southerners fix everything with duct tape??
STEWART CINK: Perception? (Laughs).
Q. I wanted to ask you another Tiger question. I think we're all trying to think this thing through that's going on, and except for the fact that there may never be any answers, but he's been referred to as a machine. I think you probably have mentioned him that way after like Torrey a couple of years ago. Do you think this human side of him will at all affect his mystique as a golfer??
STEWART CINK: Well, I don't know if -- depends on what you mean. You're assuming that there's a human side to being exposed right now. I don't know if I really --
Q. No, he said that as well.
STEWART CINK: Oh, OK. Yeah, in the statement.
STEWART CINK: I don't think that whatever comes out of this will affect his golf because he's a professional, and part of being a professional is to separate your personal life from what you do on the course.
I mean I've had plenty of times when I came to the golf course in a tournament, and I was just a wreck off the course as far as something bad had happened or I was just really concerned about something else. And you have no choice but to just leave that, and it's not always real easy, but he'll find a way, and he'll be fine.
DOUG MILNE: All right, Stewart. We promised short and sweet. Thanks for your time.
STEWART CINK: OK. Got it.