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July 21 2013

8:54 AM

Cink weighs in on contenders

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

GULLANE, Scotland -- Stewart Cink says Lee Westwood's biggest challenge on Sunday during the final round of The Open Championship will be not getting ahead of himself.

Cink, who shot a 69 on Sunday, won his first -- and so far, only -- major when he beat Tom Watson in a playoff at Turnberry in 1999, a playoff that Westwood came within a putt of joining. The former Open champ says the Englishman has definitely played well enough to deserve a major -- or more.

"The only thing that's standing in his way today is that thing between the ear that holds us all back occasionally," Cink said. "It's a tough prospect when you're leading, having never won, and have the monkey on your back, so to speak, and be free and continue to do what you're doing without thinking about getting ahead of yourself, thinking about what may lie at the end of the 18th green.

"So that will be his biggest challenge out there today with the conditions being a little more tame."

And what about Tiger Woods? What are his chances of winning his first major since the 2008 U.S. Open?

"I think you're bordering on waking the sleeping giant when you start bothering him about something like that," Cink said. "I include myself in your group, we have bothered Tiger a lot about things over the years, and he seems to come through just fine. He will be definitely a force to be reckoned with out there."

So does it surprise Cink that Woods hasn't added to his major haul of 14 in the last five years?

"It does but think about what he's been through in five years, to me it's remarkable that he got back to where he is, No. 1 in the world," Cink said. "Because he had a serious blow to that aura of invincibility. And he just is proving that that's not all he had. He's the best golfer that's ever played, as far as I'm concerned."

Cink is 40, as it Westwood. Woods is three years younger. But fitness, better nutrition and advances in equipment have lengthened careers considerably -- "especially these days, guys are just hitting their stride," Cink says. 

"The only thing that I think is a negative as you get older is that you accumulate more of the negative stuff in your mind, the scars kind of build up," Cink said. "And golf will deal you a few of those. ... In golf knowing who you are on the golf course, I think, means a lot more than probably it does to any other athlete in any other sport."

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