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June 24, 2009

Stewart Cink


THE MODERATOR: We welcome Stewart Cink to the Travelers Championship. Thank you for taking a few minutes to join us here. You're glad to be back. Obviously fond memories from the TPC Highlands last year, and coming off a good week last week, top 30 in the U.S. Open. Kind of assess the state of your game as you're heading back into defending your title?
STEWART CINK: Well, it's great to be back here of course, obviously, for a lot of reasons. I feel like I'm in a different place than I was last year, because I came in here last year with a ton of really good finishes and no wins to speak of. And this year I come in here with very few good finishes on the year and no wins to speak of.
I feel like I was frustrated a little bit last year, not here after the tournament, obviously, but coming into this tournament because I had just really played well a lot of the year and not had anything to show for it.
This year, my game has suffered a little bit. Especially the second half of last year. It's getting better now, I've changed a lot of things up. I'm really encouraged right now.
I felt like last week at the U.S. Open I didn't have much of a golf game, and I still managed, you know, to make the cut and finish decent. I think three months ago if I had played that kind of golf, I probably would have been going home early. On.
So I'm encouraged by what I'm doing, and I think I'm going in the right direction. So I'm looking for this week to maybe provide a little bit of positive movement in the right way, moving up the leaderboard, up the FedExCup standings, everything.
But without trying to put too much pressure on myself here. I love playing here and feel like my golf game is getting there, so we'll see.

Q. One of the changes you made was going to the short putter. What brought that about in and how long does it take to get comfortable with that kind of change?
STEWART CINK: Well, I went to the short putter for the same reason most players go to the long putter because I was putting bad. Pretty simple, you know. You don't see a drastic change in golfers equipment or in their, you know, a noticeable change in the way they're playing golf unless something's not happening right for them.
So I've never been one that's been afraid to shake it up a bit. I just decided after the players that I just wasn't really getting much results. I'm not a stat watcher, but I did go online and look at my stats on PGATOUR.com and looked at my putting stats.
Also, there are a lot of stats attached to putting, up-and-downs, bunker shots and saves. Everything that was attached to putting was bad. It's not like I needed a stat to tell me that I wasn't feeling confident with my putting, because I just wasn't.
So I decided I had two weeks off and I was going to just scrap everything. And the way I described it yesterday to someone was like I was a toxic dump. And I scraped off the layer of soil that had the mess in it. Put down a protective fabric, and now I'm feeling it in with the correct top soil.
So I feel the best way for me to totally accomplish that goal is to go away from the long putter. Because it's so easy when you change your mental process and your pre-shot routine, and you really scrap everything throw it on the heap. It's easier if you don't change the putter, to sneak back in there if you get under pressure or doubtful about your new stuff.
So I decided the right way to do it was to throw everything on the trash heap, including the putter, and start over fresh. So here we are.
My first three weeks have been decent, especially Memorial was really one of my best putting weeks in years. So, it's encouraging. I'm having fun with it.

Q. How difficult was it to go and stop at the U.S. Open, and now are you back on your normal schedule? And how long did it take to get there?
STEWART CINK: It was difficult last week, but not anything completely out of the ordinary. We're pretty much used to stuff like that. That's just part of being a professional and playing in tournaments. So the fact that it was at the U.S. Open, and there were so many shuttle rides already aside from just the restart at 7:30 so many times.
There was already a shuttle ride to the range back from the range, to the shuttle to 10 on. The 25 minute ride to 10. It was like 40, 44 minutes from your last ball on the range, to the tee shot on the 500-yard, par 4. Which is, I mean, if you consider us finally tuned athletes in golf, you go that long between shots. You have to stand up on this bowling ally of a long par 4. There is something to that.
It was a little bit of a mental grind physically. Waking up early, being at the golf course really late every day. Yeah, it was difficult. But everybody had to do the same thing, and the golf course was already pretty tough. Am I back on my normal schedule? No, not yet. I took yesterday off except for a few hours out here. Had some commitments with Travelers last night, which I enjoyed and got to relax a little bit, but now it's raining again so who knows. We can't be on the same schedule.

Q. Are you using the same putter as Lucas is?
STEWART CINK: I can't say I'm using it for sure. I haven't looked at his yet. But I'm using at least a very similar one.

Q. How difficult is it to gear back up mentally after everything that happened last week, and I'm sure the mental strain it had to be. Is it something where you come to this kind of tournament and maybe decompress a little bit, relax, or do you have to crank it back up and how hard is that?
STEWART CINK: You can come here and decompress and miss the cut and then you can go home and really relax. So if you want to do well here, like I want to, you have to turn it around quickly and get started. I just don't want to do that today. I didn't practice like I needed to yesterday, like I normally would. Today it's rainy out. It's going to be a fun day because I'm playing with Sandy Koufax and Jay Fichman from Travelers.
So today I don't really want to get out there and grind away too much today, because I'm still just -- this is my Tuesday. Normally we'd be two days off, then you get in the Pro-Am and you can start grinding a little bit. But this is my Tuesday. So I'm not planning on being relaxed for this tournament in a negative way, relaxed after the U.S. Open, for sure. But this tournament always gives me a good feeling in feeling comfortable here anyway, so.

Q. So is today a good Twitter day?
STEWART CINK: It might be. You'll have to check.

Q. After spending time shooting, teeing up to a narrow fairway, the U.S. Open fairways narrowed up. You come up to a Pete Dye golf course, angles, wider fairway, would you rather go from narrow to wider with play angles or wider to narrow? What is your thought process off the tee?
STEWART CINK: I would rather go from narrow to wide. That's why at your home course wherever these guys all live and base themselves and me included, I'd rather play on the narrowest course I can, because when you get to the tournament site, it's wide Open, you're like, hey, I can hit this fairway no problem. The other way around would obviously present a problem. Play on wide fairways at home, you come out to the U.S. Open and they look this wide.
After the this week, it won't even be an issue because we're just trained to do that hole by hole. There were some wide fairways last year, too relative to the U.S. Open relative to other Opens. So it won't be a big shock or a big change. We know where the targets are off these tees. We just try to hit it off the target, and the fairway is immaterial.

Q. You said you've made some changes. Besides the short putter, what other things have you done with your game?
STEWART CINK: Well, it's, you wouldn't really notice much about things unless I told you. But, I mean, outside looking in, you wouldn't notice. It's more like mental approach. I just have kind of -- most of you probably know a little about what I've done over the last six or seven years with Preston Waddington. I've worked with him. That was a good relationship for a long time, and I learned a lot. I think I might have learned a little bit too much.
I got really into a lot of things that were new to me. I wasn't really able to transfer those on to the golf course into results directly.
At first it was easy because it was new and it was wow, you know, I can't believe how much clearer this is. But then lately I've changed over to more like a traditional sports psychology where I'm reacting more to targets and I'm much more to the process and preshot routines. I'm just leaning on something else, because what I found was I started to lean on the results a little bit.
So if you're thinking about the results out here, it's going to be really hard to compete. You just can't do that because shots mean a lot to you.
If you're coming down the stretch, for instance, those shots are important. If you place more importance on those, you also are sort of making yourself into two golfers. I'm a golfer that's calm on Thursday, and a golfer that's nervous on Sunday. That's what everybody does out here.
Everybody tries to minimize that effect as much as possible, so. I'm just -- I started working with Morris Pickens, and actually the same guy that works for Lucas and Zach and a bunch of other guys. So I did that about six weeks ago.

Q. What's the main message or main principle with him?
STEWART CINK: Well, I'd say the main thing is it's a preshot routine, you have to know whether your putt's going to go in or not. So, yes, the mind only has capability of thinking about one thing at a time.
As great as it is, you can't think about two things at once. So if you think about, you know, if you crowd your mind with the thought of one thing, then it's impossible to think about the other thing, and the other thing would be the results.

Q. Following up on that, last year after you won, you talked about conversation you had with your wife about playing without thinking about the fear of the consequences of what might happen. How hard is it to maintain that mindset?
STEWART CINK: It's almost impossible to do that. There's usually one guy that does that every week, and that's usually the guy that wins.
If you notice at the U.S. Open, it was Lucas hanging in there. And even though he had to scrap the last day and he was a few over. At the end, he was the one that did his routine over and over. That backed away when he wasn't ready. Kept the ball in play. That stayed with it himself and didn't get, you know, didn't seem to be taken away by the crowd and the golf course and the whole scenario. So he was the winner.
And this week, whoever is the last one standing will be the guy that does that the best, too. And that's the same every week. So that's the goal.
And last year, yeah, the conversation about running naked across the greens, I think that's what you're referring to. Well, that's the same thought of what I'm working with Mo about, Mo Pickens. If you stand over a 30-footer and think I don't want to do that, it's probably going to roll about this far short. That's not going to get you a whole lot. You'd rather give it a chance, but you'll probably make 2 out of 10. Instead of 0.
So that's the idea, you know. You can't be worried about the results. You can't be worried about what somebody might write about you or what you might look like on TV. You've just got to worry about your own routine, right here on this shot. And see what happens.

Q. On the way over we were talking about the Hole in the Wall Gang, which is, my guess, the primary charity that benefits from Travelers and your participation in that. You were here for media day. You have your own charities and so forth. But, how special is that to be here for media day and to be part of that and to meet some of the kids at the camp?
STEWART CINK: Yeah, it's great to first to play in the traveler's championship is great. But to see all of us, the 150 or so players that are here. To see the result of the money that comes in, and then it's funneled into the Hole in the Wall is, that's where it really starts to hit home. And you get to see the results and the outcomes and what it really means. That makes it all worthwhile.
In fact, last night when I was with Jay Fishman from Travelers he was saying the same thing. He visited yesterday at the camp. And said it just all comes full circle. You've got people out there in Congress asking, you know, why are you paying all this money to sponsor a golf event?
When you go see the camp, you wonder how can you do anything else? And I thought that meant quite a bit to me. But also I think just to know that Travelers is that much behind the PGA TOUR and this event is great.

Q. Is it different this tournament now than it was 11 years ago when it was first born?
STEWART CINK: I don't know. I think first of all, way too much is made out of defending, you know. Like I've been asked how it feels to have the target on my back. Well, I'm not leading the tournament. We're all even par.
So in my mind I'm not defending anything. I'm just drawing off the great memories I had last year where I outlasted everybody. I know I can do it. If I did it here last year, I'll do it this year. So I'll be at a slight advantage just because my memories of winning are most recent here than anyone else.
But defending, I don't even remember who I played. Actually, I lost in the playoff last time in '98 when I defended that year. So I don't think there's any extra pressure. It's really not that big of a deal, and more is made out of it than should be. We're all different golfers now than we were one year ago.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks if your time, and best of luck, try to stay dry.

End of FastScripts

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