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January 26, 2008

Stewart Cink


CHRIS REIMER: We want to thank Stewart Cink for joining us here at the Buick Invitational. Stewart, a bogey-free round today, eagle on the 18th hole. You're down eight strokes. Just first talk about today and how it went out there.
STEWART CINK: Well, it was frustrating. I played pretty solidly, but it takes more than just playing solid to catch up to Tiger Woods. He played phenomenally. If you ask him -- the scary part is if you ask him, he probably would say that he played somewhat conservatively. But he put six birdies and no bogeys on us, and we were just trying to catch up. All day, you know, you start behind him and he plays pretty much mistake-free, and then at the end of the day, here we are.

Q. Talk a little bit about your career. I'm looking at how solidly you've played over the years. Do you think you get kind of the recognition you deserve, or do you think you're one of those guys that kind of goes under the radar?
STEWART CINK: Well, I think recognition comes with wins, and I don't think I've had enough wins to garner the type of recognition that some of the other players have had. I've had a solid career, but as far as I'm concerned I don't think I've performed well enough in the win category. I think I've still got some good years ahead of me. I'm 34. I think I've got a good ten years ahead of me at least. I'd like to add to that total. That's one of my major focuses the upcoming couple years.

Q. Can you just talk about the eagle on 18 a little bit?
STEWART CINK: Well, yeah, that was three shots as well as you can hit them. A hit a good drive right down the middle. Let's see, I had 243 to the flag and it was a perfect 5-wood, and I hit it about -- the main goal was the water in front, just to catch it solid so you carry it onto the green. You don't want to be close to that pond. I hit it really solid, carried it to the middle of the green and had about a -- I guess ShotLink said it was about 38 feet or so with about five feet of break left to right over a hump, which seems like it's the case every hole out here. You're putting up and over a ridge. It was a good putt. I was very happy to make that, you know, to get something going from a confidence standpoint going into tomorrow because I really didn't have a whole lot going today other than just one little birdie.

Q. You talked yesterday about how much you like playing with Tiger, you like the excitement.
STEWART CINK: Yeah, like I said, I enjoy playing with him because I like to learn from him. He's the best player the game has ever seen, as far as I'm concerned. Just to watch him play and see how he goes about his business and how -- I like the way he stays calm and he stays on task, whether he's two or three shots behind or whether he's eight shots ahead. It's the same Tiger Woods. To me that's very impressive because it's a difficult thing to do. He makes it looks easy but it's not easy.

Q. Devil's advocate question given the eight-shot lead. How long should we sit around here in San Diego waiting for the weather to clear before they ring the bell? Do you know what I mean?
STEWART CINK: I know exactly what you mean, especially with a particular player in the field headed towards the Middle East for a tournament.

Q. I'm guessing the TOUR is not real worried about that.
STEWART CINK: I don't think that will -- we have policies, and they'll stick with the policies. I hope we get it finished tomorrow. You know, if we don't, then that may have been a big eagle for me on the last hole (laughter).

Q. Two-part question. One, as you play the course this week, do you visualize Open conditions and think about strategy that you might employ there that you wouldn't use here? And two, other than the guy you're chasing, is there a particular kind of player that this course suits?
STEWART CINK: Okay, first of all, when you're playing out here and you're in contention, you know -- well, I'm in second place. I'm not really in contention (laughter).
Yeah, you're thinking about it a little bit, but really your focus is more what's going on at the moment. There's been some moments in between shots where I've thought a little bit about the kind of shape the greens are going to be in and the rough, where it's going to -- if the fairways are going to be narrower, how deep the rough is going to be.
But really, you can't envision what to expect because the weather is going to dictate everything. I'm sure they'll shoot for a certain kind of setup, but this course is really tough. It doesn't really need a whole lot of huge rough or the greens don't have to be 13 for them to be challenging. They're already challenging.
I mean, I think you see today on a day when there's very little wind, the scoring wasn't exactly off the charts low. I think Justin Leonard shot the low score and then Tiger was next. But the scores aren't ridiculously low.
And then as far as the type of player who can contend in a U.S. Open here, I think the golf course is a very execution-oriented golf course where you have to hit the fairways, you have to be long, you have to hit controlled iron shots and you have to have a good short game. It's not a putting contest and it's not just fairways hit contest. It's a very well-rounded general test of the entire game.
If you take Tiger out of the mix, you look for a guy who can hit straight and has a good short game and who's been there a bunch of times in the past.

Q. You've known Tiger for a long time and obviously he's been a great champion for a long time. But what is he doing better now than even maybe two or three years ago?
STEWART CINK: Well, he's controlling his ball off the tee really well for one thing. He's in play a lot. If he's out of the fairway, he's just a few steps. Very rare anymore that he's way off the mark like we saw a few years ago.
He's just hard to beat right now. He's got everything firing really well, and when he does come close to making a bogey, he makes a 20-footer for par. It's easy to get demoralized, but I just have to keep on plugging and stay focused on what I can do.
Like I told my caddie out there, we can't control what Tiger does. He's going to do his dramatics and be really consistent. He's just firing on all cylinders. He seems in control. He doesn't seem to be fearful of any missed shots. There's a lot of placed you can stumble out there.

Q. You started off your round with a birdie, ended with an eagle. In between, how would you summarize in between, I guess?
STEWART CINK: I think mostly it was cases of missed opportunities where if I was in the fairway, I had the green light, I could have been a little more aggressive and maybe I just was a little tentative. Or the par-5s kind of hurt me. I struggled on the par-5s today until the 18th hole. That was a big difference, you know, from being 3-under for the day or maybe 5- or 6-under for the day. I think it was par-5 play for me. Hopefully I can hem it in a little bit tomorrow.
CHRIS REIMER: Stewart, thank you and best of luck tomorrow.

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