Sunday, June 29, 2008

Golf Match: Cink vs. Jones

As most of you golf fans know, Stewart Cink won last week’s Travelers Championship in Connecticut, closing with a solid 67 to win by one. Stewart and I are pretty good friends, not just through our interaction out on TOUR, but also because he is also a Georgia Tech grad and Atlanta resident.

Back in November, Stewart invited me and my wife to join him for a casual round at TPC Sugarloaf, his home course in Duluth, Georgia. Watching a TOUR pro play up close is borderline boring in that they are usually so consistent, you can’t even remember half of the shots they hit. Stewart split almost every fairway, hit most of the greens, and had easy two-putt pars hole after hole. Yawn (that’s an envious yawn).

However, on the few occasions where Stewart did miss a green or drilled one off line, he always came right back with a mind-blowing recovery shot. These are the shots I remember! He perfectly executed two impossible bunker shots (I couldn’t have duplicated either one with a large bucket of balls), and after he flared a three-wood into the right woods on #14, he threaded a waist-high four-iron through about twenty trees that then rose and faded down the fairway, hitting the green some 180 yards away. My jaw was on the ground.
“How did you do that?” I stammered. “Do you practice hitting punch-cut four-irons?”

“No…obviously I don’t practice that specific shot,” he replied. “But I picture the ball flight it in my mind and feel it in my hands, and then just hit it and hope. It helps to get lucky.”
Didn’t Tiger tell me the same thing about being lucky? Where do I buy some of this luck stuff?

We had a little match going, and Stewart was giving me five strokes per nine. My game ran hot and cold, but I made a bunch of pars and somehow hung in there until the last hole. The match was all square going into #18, and then Stewart showed why he’s a TOUR pro and I showed why I’m not. He hit that par five in two and easily made his birdie. I bladed a sand wedge from the middle of the fairway into the back greenside bunker, gouged it out and two-putted for a bogey. Cink over Jones 1-up, and I owed him a Moe’s Southwest Grill burrito for lunch.

Stewart is one of my favorite guys on TOUR. He is down-to-earth, generous with every one he meets, and just a pleasure to be around. Congrats on your fifth PGA TOUR win, Stewart! Who says nice guys finish last?

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Anonymous Bobby said...

Casey, when is the rematch, i think you've got him where you want him now....question, clubbing against him how do your power stand up?

July 1, 2008 4:13 PM  
Anonymous Luke said...

Much like Stewart, I see the bladed sand wedge into the far side bunker in my mind, feel it in my hands, and execute it flawlessly more times than not.

July 7, 2008 11:43 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

Bob...I hit my irons the same distance (just more crooked), but when we both smoked a driver, he was still 20-30 yards past me. And like I said, his short game made me look like a 40-handicapper.

July 21, 2008 9:42 AM  

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