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Posts Tagged ‘British Open’

Why is Stewart Cinking?

I was perusing the World Golf Rankings list (http://www.officialworldgolfranking.com/rankings/default.sps?region=world&PageCount=3) a few moments ago and it struck me, what’s going on with Stewart Cink? He is 134th in the world. As of December 4th he is 101st on the PGA Tour money list (http://www.pgatour.com/r/stats/info/?109). Well inside the top 125, but not where I would have expected to see him as a non-watcher of the money list. Is he having issues or is he just “comfortable?”

Since his win at the Open Championship at Turnberry, bittersweet to most golf fans because he won over the resurgent 59 year old Tom Watson, Cink has been on a “Bear market trend” in world ranking points and earnings (that is not a good thing). For the remainder of 2009 (after his win), he had one top 10 finish. In 2010 he had three top 10 and twelve top 25 finishes on the PGA Tour. And this year he managed only one top 10 and six top 25 finishes. This is a precipitous drop in performance for the 38 year old golfer since his British Open win.

Stewart Cink turned pro in 1995, playing and winning on the Nike Tour then graduating to the PGA Tour in 1997 where he won the Canon Greater Hartford Open that year. He has six career PGA Tour wins and eighty-eight top 10 finishes. A dozen years or so he has been “in the mix,” but win a major and all of a sudden you never hear about him.

I came across a story on PGA.com that may provide some light. As reported in March 2011, he dropped his longtime swing coach Butch Harmon for his putting coach Pat O’Brien who will advise him on all aspects of play. According to the story he did so because of “scheduling conflicts.” Harmon Is based in Las Vegas and Cink lives in Atlanta and Cink decided family time was more important than travelling time to get to Harmon. Understandable, but I wonder if Cink hasn’t lost “the fire” since his win -acquiescing to do the more comfortable thing rather than that which makes him most competitive.

I like what I see in Stewart Cink’s talent and demeanor – a great golfer and seemingly a genuinely nice guy. I was sorry for him that his British Open win came with the pallor of Tom Watson’s loss. I think he has more majors in him. As a fan, I’d like to see him turn this around, but the indications are that he is “surfing.” Did I piss you off Stewart? I hope so! Get your ass in gear!

Is it Ernie’s Time?

Ernie Els is 40 and has never won the Masters.  He has come close – finishing second twice and has 6 Top Ten finishes.  However, he has missed the cut 4 times, 3 of those coming in the last 3 years.  We know he can win in tough conditions on the big stage.  He has 2 U.S. Open wins and a British Open win on his resume.  But his last major win, The Open played at Muirfield in Gullane, Scotland, was 8 years ago.

He has momentum coming into the Masters this year.  He ended a 2-year win drought with his WGC-CA Championship win at Doral and followed that up last week with the win at Arnie’s Invitational at Bay Hill.  Attribute this sudden improvement to some hard work on the range following mediocre placing at the Honda Classic the week prior to
Doral.  Believe it or not, he has merely adjusted his ball position, moving it slightly back in his stance.  That and a few thousand balls later and he is apparently in a groove. 

His win at Doral was convincing.  His win at Bay Hill less so.  He seemed to have been ‘saved by the rain’ on Sunday as he was beginning to take a ride on the bogey train when the rains came.  He had doubled 13 and bogeyed 14 when play was suspended.  He scrambled his way to the win on Monday.  He had to really work for it after squandering a 5-shot lead going into 13 on Sunday.  While less convincing than Doral, it is a win none-the-less, and probably served to reinforce confidence in finding a way when it counts, albeit with some divine intervention on Sunday.

Ernie has 62 professional wins, and 8 of these on the PGA tour.  His experience on the stage and the momentum he has achieved these past few weeks puts his name back on the list of favorites for the Masters.  If he continues in his groove and his putting remains steady, he has a great chance for a green jacket.  Putting will be the key for Ernie at Augusta.

If what I think will happen happens with Tiger’s re-emergence, we will see some terrific drama unfold with the two of them on the weekend.  I hope so anyway…