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May 3, 2008

Stewart Cink


STEWART MOORE: Stewart Cink, thanks for spending a few moments with us here in the interview room at the Wachovia Championship after a great third round 65. You're currently tied for third. You really jumped up the leaderboard. Just looking at your card, you were 5-over through 12 holes on Thursday. You're not really supposed to be here.
STEWART CINK: No, I'm supposed to be watching golf on TV this weekend. That's the way I felt on Thursday. I gave myself a little pep talk. Actually, I gave myself a pep talk on the third fairway, which was my 12th hole, and I proceeded to make bogey (laughter).

Q. Bad coaching?
STEWART CINK: Bad coaching. So I reminded myself of the pep talk after that and played the last six 4-under and played a solid round yesterday, not spectacular, but a solid round.
And then today was one of those days where a lot of putts went in from all over the place, long putts, short putts, putts from rock walls. It was a lot of fun out there.
I hit a lot of good shots today, too, but around the greens I really saved myself.
STEWART MOORE: You get to the first tee today and you see Pat Perez going extremely low, you see Adam Scott putting numbers up there, so you knew it was possible.
STEWART CINK: Actually when I saw those low numbers, I thought it was because they played so early it was before the wind started because it was blowing pretty hard from the getgo for us. I thought of it as, darn, what a great break they got. I didn't really think that it was in the cards for somebody in my part of the day or later to shoot a low score like that.
But it just shows you what can happen when you really bear down and treat every shot like it's a new match. I got some good breaks out there and took advantage of them.

Q. So what does a pep talk from Stewart Cink to Stewart Cink contain?
STEWART CINK: Well, I think what happened was going back to 15, which was my 6th hole, I had played okay, I just made five pars, and then I got distracted on the tee where somebody from the marshaling staff -- Sergio hit it left by the water and this marshal just took off across the fairway when I was about to pull the club back. I backed away, and I hit the next shot straight out of bounds.
I don't think that it was the guy's fault or anything, but I got distracted and kind of got out of sorts a little bit there, and it kind of threw me out of whack. I lost my tempo, my rhythm; everything just felt foreign. For about seven holes I just played almost like an out-of-body experience.
The pep talk was basically I reminded myself that, hey, I'm the same person that I was the last couple months when I've been playing some pretty decent golf, not to give up, and remember just to stay in the present instead of trying to guide the ball because I felt like I tried to guide it. It's not hard to do on a course like this where you need to be in play.
So basically I listened to myself after that half a hole where I made bogey and hit a lot of good shots coming in the rest of the way, and if anything, shooting 1-over out here is not -- nobody is crying shooting 1-over par, especially that first day where the scores weren't that great. I don't know, I almost felt like I got some momentum from that, and if you're 3- or 4-under and you end up 1-over, you feel like you've killed momentum, then you think about maybe going home. But I had a lot of confidence after that round, and it's kind of carried over for the last two days.

Q. I guess Tony said initially they were going to ding you the two shots and then you talked them out of it, as you explained you weren't testing the grass or whatever the case may be, and it was just you being clumsy?
STEWART CINK: Well, I was clumsy, but not in a physical sense. Clumsily I used my hand to balance to get down really low and look at the putt, and my hand happened to be inside the hazard line, and I was like, oh, no, what did I just do. Immediately I knew I needed to call the official and discuss it. I wasn't sure whether it was going to be a penalty or not because of the fact that I was balancing, and I needed to balance in order to get a good look at the ball because it may -- if I aimed it incorrectly, where it was sitting in the rocks, it could have just as well hit the rock in front of me and gone back in the water, or it could have hit me -- either one of those is a penalty.
So originally Tony looked at the rule book, and it said, yeah, touching the ground in the hazard for any reason other than it lists, a couple of reasons that you're allowed to, is a two-shot penalty. But then in the decision book, I believe it was, it says that you're allowed to touch the ground in order to balance to keep from falling over. Well, I was balancing my hand because I wanted to get as low as possible, and I really didn't feel comfortable doing the Camilo Spiderman right there on the rock wall with the water. I was balancing just trying to get as low as I could to see what angle I needed to use to hit the shot properly without causing more damage.

Q. What was the timetable, this whole discussion?
STEWART CINK: The shot happened on the 17th green, and then immediately I knew that I needed to talk about it, but I figured because out of respect for Sergio, my playing partner, let's go ahead and finish the round and we'll discuss it inside. I didn't want to cause a big problem out there on the course. So I decided to go ahead and let's just play.
As soon as we putted out on 18, I went to our walking scorer and asked them to call an official to meet me in the scorer's hut there. I think that was the right thing to do. Normally with the rules of golf you want to settle it right then, but I wasn't going to sign my card and turn my card in and then walk out and say, I think we have a problem. It was the right thing to do in this case.

Q. It wasn't going to involve a different drop or anything?
STEWART CINK: No, it was either going to be add two or don't.

Q. So what happened when you guys talked about it? At some point did you have the two?
STEWART CINK: Yeah, originally he looked it up, and it said, you're allowed to move, I guess, what, not a loose impediment but like an artificial object or something, like a beer top. You're allowed to move something like that so you can touch the grass then.

Q. Or I guess a microphone?
STEWART CINK: Yeah, there was some microphones jammed into the grass there, too, which were fine. There's a couple other instances where you're allowed to do it. It doesn't specifically list that you're allowed to balance using your hand until you look in the decision book. I'm assuming it was the decision book. He had it and he showed me a second book and said, here's when it says you're allowed to use it for balance. So like if you need to take your shoe off to hit a shot, you're allowed to balance to untie or whatever, so that's basically the same thing as I was doing.

Q. Was this with Tony Wallin?
STEWART CINK: Tony Wallin, yeah. Also Tony said that Jon Brendle was kind of the resident police officer there on 17, and he watched me do the whole thing and never thought there was anything wrong. That's a relief to know that.

Q. For those of us who weren't there, could you give us a succinct explanation of the DQ at Zurich and how you had apparently violated a rule and found out several hours if not a day later?
STEWART CINK: Yeah, 24 hours later. You want me to go through the rules, like what my ball, how it all unfolded?

Q. Kind of how you found out. You were in a bunker and you raked it before you got in the other one?
STEWART CINK: My ball was in the lip of a bunker, and I used -- I guess my right foot I put in the bunker to hit the shot. It was way up on the lip. I hit the ball way down the fairway into another bunker, and my caddie raked my footprint. So we get up there to the next one, play it, finish the round.
Come out the next morning, and Zach, my good friend Zach Johnson, we're on the putting green at the same time because we're teeing off around the same time of day, and he says, listen to this crazy rule, and I'm about to walk to the tee. He says, listen to this crazy rule. Did you know that if you hit your ball near a bunker and you stand in it, hit your shot, and it goes into a greenside bunker that you're not allowed to rake the bunker? I said, no, I didn't know that. I bet that happens all the time out here.
Arvin Ginn, I think he was the tournament director at that one, he was on the putting green. I don't know why he was, but he was there, and he knew I needed to go to the tee, so we walked to the tee together and he explained, yeah, that is a rule. We've been trying to get it changed. We think it's crazy, it's going to cause a problem one day. Anyway, go play well.
So second fairway, I'm playing with Paul Goydos, and we were talking about the same thing, and I said, I bet I've done that myself out here. I bet I've done it half a dozen times in my career and not known that, and then it just popped in my head, I did that yesterday.
Just like today, I immediately called a rules official right away. He came out on No. 2, and there was an elaborate discussion, and finally they picked me up in a golf cart on No. 7, so I played five holes dead man walking (laughter). That was an odd experience.
And then about seven days later I found out they changed it.

Q. So you took a bullet for the team?

Q. So if Zach hadn't have said something you'd have gone to the first tee unaware, and none of that would have happened probably.
STEWART CINK: Yeah, if Zach had not said anything, the rule would be the same today probably, and I would have finished 40th or 50th or whatever I was in at the tournament at the time.

Q. There was some conversation on the waste bunker rule, that they were thinking about changing that, too, because they thought it was some sort of violation of intent, even though you talked to a guy eight seconds before, right, and then they didn't change it?
STEWART CINK: In a waste bunker, it's made of loose impediments, it's all little crushed rocks and stuff. You could say, well, where does the definition change from crushed rocks to sand. To me sand is almost like a fluid substance, and these crushed rocks are little pieces of rock; you can flick them away. If you had one between you and the hole on the green, I think you'd move it. It's a big rock.

Q. If you had one in your shoe it would hurt.
STEWART CINK: So the whole thing is made of those loose impediments. And that deal there, you know, you can say, yeah, I had intent to improve my lie. But what do you consider improving your lie? If you've got a rock next to your ball and removed it, does that mean you've improved your lie? Well, you definitely have a better lie than you did, but you're allowed to move the rock.
So it's a little confusing. That means you're saying if you have a rock behind your ball, you're not allowed to improve your lie by moving that rock which you're allowed to move. So that's why the rules of golf are there, to give you a chance to improve your position because of what the rules allow you to do.

Q. Was there not some discussion for quite a bit of time as to whether they might exempt waste bunkers from that rule or something?
STEWART CINK: I don't know, they might have.

Q. And then they decided to stay with the hard-and-fast rule? It's a while ago now.
STEWART CINK: They changed that very waste bunker to a sand bunker, a hazard now, so it's all boring sand now.

Q. So now you can't touch anything?
STEWART CINK: Nope, but you can -- all you can do in there now is you can bend over and put your weight on your hand in there, I know that (laughing).

Q. That's on 16, right?

Q. Did you do anything in the off-season to provoke this goofy year for you so far?
STEWART CINK: I worked hard to play well (laughing), and now I guess -- I don't know, I just seem to be sort of a lightning rod with this rules situation. The first one happened because I was oblivious to it and the one today because I was somewhat absentminded about going down to balance myself, and it turns into a question. There's probably players on TOUR that wouldn't have even called it, either.

Q. Can we hear about some of those hellacious putts you holed today?
STEWART CINK: Yeah, let's talk about something else. 2 was a 7-iron to about 12 feet.
7, I hit driver, 4-iron about 12 feet, made eagle there.
8, I hit an awful shot off the tee into the left rough and had to just basically play a -- well, it was a pitch-out from 115 yards to the middle of the green, and I had to go up a big severe tier from about 30 feet. Made it.
9, actually hit it in the left trees. My ball was on a stick, and I couldn't move the stick, and when I hit the ball out to chip out, it was more like a hard punch, the stick came straight up and almost hit me in the eyeball, and I've got a mark on my face from it.
10, missed the fairway by about two inches, had to lay up, a good wedge about ten feet there. That's a tough pin on 10. Made the putt.
14, I hit it right of the bunker off the tee, almost pin high, but really a difficult shot. It was one of those where you just kind of hit it and just hope, because if it went just a little bit past the hole, it was going in the water. And it came out perfectly and rolled about four feet. Made the putt.
15, I was in the bunker to the right of the fairway, dead up against the lip, one foot out of the bunker and had no shot and scrambled for a really good par there, good up-and-down.
16, good 8-iron to about 15 feet.
And 17, I think we've discussed enough (laughter).

Q. You didn't talk about the putt going in.
STEWART CINK: Oh, yeah, the putt went in. It was probably about 25 feet all in all. The first foot and a half was rock, then --

Q. How did it stay dry?
STEWART CINK: I don't know.

Q. Kind of like balancing on the beam there, wasn't it?
STEWART CINK: It was a 230-yard shot dead into the wind, right to left, and I hit a 4-iron, and I hit it almost over the green in the water. Totally shocked by how far it went. And it just rolled through the rough and it got on the rock, I guess, must be just trickled onto it, and then it just found its way into the little mortar between the rocks, you know, like a depression in the mortar. The rock ledge is probably about as wide as this desk, and my ball was just dead in the center of it in a little depression. So I had one foot of rock, then I had a foot of hazard grass, and then I had about three yards of rough, and then I had 15 feet of green. It broke a little right, and it went in (laughter).

Q. Did you have a number in mind when you teed off today?

Q. What was your mindset?
STEWART CINK: I wanted to go out there and just hit good shots all day and just see what I could do. Like I said, I had confidence from the other day where I came back. I never envisioned a round like this coming because the course is really tough. I just let it unfold.
You know, I never got ahead of myself, I just tried to play shot after shot. You have to do that, it's so challenging out there. The breeze is blowing, the greens are really hard and fast. I did a good job today, just kind of stayed in there and hit shot after shot all the way until the last putt dropped. In fact, this wasn't over for another 20 minutes.

Q. Do you have a favorite part of this tournament? Is it the golf course or is there a stretch of holes or is it the date? What do you like about playing here?
STEWART CINK: One thing I think is the course, and the crowds I think are just wonderful. The course is challenging, it's a good old-style course, it's tough. And then the people really come out and support this. Like Tuesday's practice round felt like a major.

Q. Could you get any other club on that ball at 17?
STEWART CINK: I used a putter -- the depression of the ball was about that big (indicating four inches) and that deep (indicating one inch), and if I went straight at the hole, the rock was really sharp, and it might have hit the rock. It was going to hit the rock and come back. I couldn't use anything with loft because it was -- it was like a plugged lie, sitting that deep in the depression, and I couldn't get any loft behind it. So I used my putter to almost drive it down into the mortar so the ball would bounce up. If you noticed there, it came out like a little pitch. The putt was this high (indicating one inch). I had to aim left because of that sharp piece of rock, and luckily the way the ground was there, if it would have been all green, it would have broken right about three or four feet, and you can see it curling in there.

Q. Utterly unrelated, Perez shot 65 today, made the cut on the number, what was almost a 63, bogeyed the last two holes and was talking about the mini-revised cut rules that we've had this year and how he made it up in nine holes basically. I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on that, if you're happy with the way it stands now, and apparently there was discussion of going to the European Tour standard of 64 in the future that's being studied.
STEWART CINK: Yeah, in fact, that's part of the policy. The policy is, as we know it, if there's more than 78 players then there's going to be a cut after the third round. But at the bottom there's a paragraph that says we will continue to monitor what 65 and ties would do to the cuts, tournament after tournament after tournament, 65. So it's part of the policy that we're still monitoring. I'm not one of the monitor people, but all I have to do is raise my hand and say yea or nay on the rule. I don't know.
When I was out there today, I was thinking, why are we having a cut today, because we're playing twosomes? Everybody is going to finish unless there's a rainstorm.

Q. With 87 guys.
STEWART CINK: Yeah, so we're getting into the time of year now where we have a lot more daylight and we can do stuff like that.
The problem is the golfers out here, the fields out here, are so close together. For a while yesterday it looked like 7-under was going to lead and even was going to be the cut, and there was still going to be a lot of players making the cut. When they're that close together, it's just so hard to come up with a cut at all. If you do the old ten-shot rule like in the past, you're going to have 120 guys in the cut sometimes.

Q. The question I was going to ask, you've won a number of tournaments. As well as you've played this year, are you surprised that you haven't been able to pull off a few more wins?
STEWART CINK: Well, I'm not surprised because the two times that I had a really good chance to win, one was the PODS, and I didn't play well enough to win for about four or five holes, and I cost myself a lot of shots and I lost. And the other time was at a match for 36 holes against Tiger Woods, the best golfer in history. You could say, I guess, I was tied for the lead going into the last round there (laughter), but -- he was playing pretty well that day, and it would have been my best effort probably ever to stay even with him the way he played that day.
I'm not surprised. I mean, I think I've gotten what I deserved this year. I really haven't deserved to win a tournament yet. I haven't had bad breaks that cost me, I just had a stretch of bad holes that cost me. Who knows, maybe this week I'll have a stretch of good holes that will turn out my way.

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