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January 18, 2011

Stewart Cink


MARK STEVENS: Like to welcome Stewart Cink. Stewart, first appearance since '98 or no, 2008. Sorry about that. Had your best finish in '98 here I think at T-6. Talk about coming back to the Hope and what you expect this week and we'll take a few questions.
STEWART CINK: Well, I love coming back here. It is my first tournament of the year. I don't really have high expectations, but it's always exciting to come out and test the new stuff, things you've been working on, and really get an idea of where your game's going to settle in for this year.
You can't really use one week, but it's always good to come out and see the weather forecast is like 70's and sunshine and zero percent chance of rain and you know you're going to play a lot of golf and get the repetitions in. And it's a great way to start the year. A good spring board.
MARK STEVENS: Questions?

Q. It's obvious you weren't here last year because you wouldn't have said we had great weather because last year was miserable. But not that you're not here to potentially win the golf tournament, but it does seem like a lot of guys talk about this tournament as almost like spring training if you will. Because you know you're going to get to play 72 holes, you know that -- is that -- how much more is that than trying to necessarily play great golf this week?
STEWART CINK: I think that it has a lot to do with time of year, the fact that it's a lot of players' first tournament and that it is a longer format so you got four rounds before the cut, so players are expecting to get a lot in.
But also it's an opportunity for somebody to come out and say, well I'm not at spring training, this counts. I'm going to be focused from the get go and try to see what kind of damage I can do to start the year. There's no better way to get your confidence up than to have a great start, a great first tournament where you're in contention.
Sure there's some rust on everyone, there's going to be some shots that look a little funny and you kind of wonder where those came from, but you have to be prepared for that and just be ready to go out there and compete.
And it's easy to lose touch with the leaders out here if you come out expecting to walk in the park and you shoot 1 or 2-under par the first day and everybody else up at the top of the leaderboard is 10 or 11-under. You could lose touch fast. So it's important to be shart from the very beginning and you don't want to put it in neutral.

Q. How much work do you actually do in the off season? What did you do between Ryder Cup and now? How much serious stuff did you do? You're not a rookie you know how this rhythm goes.
STEWART CINK: Yeah, it's important to take time off, I really believe it is. And I took off 10 out of the last 12 weeks. I played the Children's Miracle Network Disney tournament and I played the Chevron out here in California, so I spaced them out properly for myself and got plenty of family time, in fact if you ask my wife probably got a little too much family time.
But it was great to reacquaint again with the kids and really establish a consistent schedule at home. And, yeah, I practiced when the weather was good. It was kind of a rough December back in Georgia for us, so didn't get a lot of practice in because of the weather, but made what I could out of the time I had.
And I learned a long time ago that it's important not to stress out when the weather doesn't cooperate when you're trying to prepare for a tournament. It's more important to just be organized and be in good shape and have good thoughts than it is to hit a couple extra 5-irons before you get out here.
So yes, I practiced a little bit, but not too much. I use the week or two before I was down in Florida to get ready and got some practice in there and then I use this one to really hit the ground running.

Q. Having not been here for a couple of years they have added a new golf course since were here last, the Nicklaus Course. Have you had much time on that one and how do you kind of approach the week in terms of trying to get the in touch with all four of the golf courses?
STEWART CINK: Well, it's challenging, in fact that's the reason I haven't been playing here in the past because I played Sony the last few years, when I played in Kapalua I'm in Sony too, so I find it really hard to come from Sony to here and then really only have a day and a half or so to get ready.
But this year I came out on Sunday, got some golf in on the Nicklaus, which is the course I haven't played before until this year. And I think that the Nicklaus Course fits in great in this rotation. It matches the other courses, it's fun to play, there's plenty of places out there to get in trouble, but you can also make birdies if you hit it straight. I think it's enjoyable. It's a really good fun course to play.
So, but all I get is one time around it. We learn courses pretty fast and considering we only play there one time I don't think the courses are going to throw us any real surprises. It would be different if the weather was going to be really iffy and a lot of wind, because these holes change a lot in the wind, but I don't expect there's going to be a lot of that.

Q. I was doing a little research and came across the statistic that was kind of startling to me, you have like 1.3 million followers on Twitter. When did that start and what's that all about?
STEWART CINK: Yeah, that started back about probably started about two years, almost two years ago. The story goes like this, I was watching PTI, which is my favorite show it's the only show I record regularly, Pardon the Interruption. And I watch that show and I don't know why, maybe guys think I'm crazy, but I like to watch those guys go back and forth with each other.
So they did a little spot on Chris Bosh, who is a Georgia Tech guy, so my attention was sort of perked up a little bit and they were talking about him Tweeting a message, which I didn't know what that was.
So they said that he had put information out that he was unhappy where he was playing. And they were talking about whether that was too much information to be sharing on Twitter or not and quickly though the focus of the topic really shifted from that to more of a broader term or broader range and that was the topic of whether Twitter and social media is going to replace the traditional media. With players like golfers and other athletes or anybody that basically has microphones in front of them, will the social media become the new way for people to directly contact their fan base without having to use traditional media. And that was interesting to me.
So as most people my age do, I asked my son what Twitter was, 16 years old, and he told me it was sort of like Facebook. And I went on and tried it out and just kind of he told me that I probably have a few golf fans that would enjoy it and I would probably end up with 500 to a thousand people that got my messages. And I thought that sounded pretty neat.
So I started basically just telling people what I was doing and it felt boring at the time, but once I started to gain followers and I started to get responses from people I really became entertained by it. And I really got a great relationship with, I mean, it's hard to say with everyone of the 1.2 million followers I have, I don't have a great relationship with every single one of them, in fact there's been we have gone back and forth a little bit too. Sort of PTI style with one another.
But it's been a lot of fun and the thing is that most golfers, if your name's not Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or maybe Camilo or Bubba who was just in here, it's hard for our personalities to come across through the television camera lens into the living room with the fans, because most of us figured out a long time ago that the best way to be productive as golfers is to be focused and sort of even keeled and not too high, not too low. And that's boring on TV. And most people think that appears boring.
So with Twitter I'm able to get some personality of mine that I feel like I have a little bit, get that through directly to them. I don't have to worry about the TV, they don't have to show me and people still know a little bit about me. And it's helped me with my fan base and I hear all the time from people out here they come up to watch the tournaments and the things that I've Tweeted recently about and I have a good time doing it, and it's been a good thing for me as far as my career.
I have fans out there now that I didn't have before or at least I didn't know existed.

Q. You had one guy the other day it was either you or him telling you that he was regripping his ball retriever.
STEWART CINK: That's correct. Yeah. Well, it's a guy I play golf with down in Boca last week and I know him and he told me he had to regrip his ball retriever. I thought that was kind of entertaining, that means the guy's hitting a lot of golf balls into the water.
So it's stuff like that that a lot of my Tweets they're really you have to read a little bit between the lines to figure out what I'm trying to say. I just, I have a good time with that. Sometimes people probably don't even get anything I'm saying and I sound like a moron, but that's their opinion.

Q. How often do you do it?
STEWART CINK: It comes and goes. I'll go four or five days without doing anything and then I'll answer I'll go through and answer 200 replies in a row. I try to reply to as many people as I can, just because I think that shows them that I respect them and I do respect all my followers. Even the ones that don't agree with me.

Q. Do you follow a lot of other professional golfers on Twitter and who among the other golfers do you think is making the best use of it or has the most entertaining application?
STEWART CINK: I don't follow a lot of the golfers, but the ones that I'm closer with, like Zach, I follow him and Paul Stankowski is using it in a good way, Rickie is really good, Bubba over loads my inbox.
So, but I do, I follow those guys. I don't follow a lot of European guys because they sort of go back and forth with each other and they talk about topics that I don't really know much about. But Poulter obviously has done a good job. He and I got started early. We were sort of the early adopters.

Q. Has Tiger passed you in followers or are you still above him?
STEWART CINK: I don't know. I don't look at Tiger. He was late to get started, but if people know that he's on it I'm sure that he'll get millions.

Q. That brings us to the kind of the inevitable question, you're trying to enhance your personality, which I think you did in the Tom Watson situation in the 2009 British Open, and then I think you also did it after the Ryder Cup with what you said about some guys say they want to be in that position but most of them are lying or something like that. Would you have been able to -- two part question. When the thing happened at the British Open, you were somewhat prepared to handle that better than most people, would you have been able to handle it in a way you did 10 years earlier and are you aware of how some guys can win a Major, even a Major, and disappear, but you haven't because of a lot of these things, because of personality?
STEWART CINK: Well, I think that first of all your question about could I have done that 10 years ago, you know, I just did what came to my heart. And I felt like it was important that I recognize Tom Watson's achievement there at the British Open, how remarkable that was.
And I also understand that most of the golf world were hoping that story would complete itself and he would win. And that's okay, I understand. So I had a really good grasp on the importance of that moment and it never was in doubt to me that I needed to do that. And it was the right thing to do. So that was something that I think years ago I probably would have also done.
But I probably would have, 10 years ago I think I also would have said some things that I regret saying.
But it was important that I recognize that. So and I forgot your other, the other part of the question, I'm sorry.

Q. Oh --
STEWART CINK: Oh, about the Majors.

Q. Guys winning a Major and disappearing.
STEWART CINK: If you look at my stats I have disappeared since then. I played poorly by my standards.

Q. Not at the Ryder Cup you didn't.
STEWART CINK: No, not at the Ryder Cup and I played well enough to at least garner some attention to get a spot at the Ryder Cup. So, yeah, that's true, my standards are a little higher than that. And I haven't won since the British Open, haven't been in contention as much as I want to be. But I try to carry myself out here as a professional and try to do things in an honorable way and just sort of be a good example for younger players.
I mean, the TOUR needs a lot of boosting right now with the economy and there's a lot of change over from generation to generation. That's natural. So I just try to, I want to be a good example for younger players and hopefully leave this PGA TOUR a better place than it was when I got out here.

Q. Can you talk about maybe the state of what you feel like the state of this tournament is and what you think your response to I guess what the changes that Larry Thiel has made and I don't know if your family is here with you and if they're taking advantage of any of the kind of perks he's put in for the family.
STEWART CINK: Well, my family is not here, so they're not taking advantage of it. They wish they were because I read over the information and my wife was really excited and especially about being able to use the courtesy car.
But, no, I think they're making some great changes. Larry has a lot of experience and he came from a tournament that did the most of any tournament at its time for the players and I think they understood that that was a big key to the success of the tournament.
So now he's doing that here, which is great. It really shows the staff has been excellent, they're very helpful, I also like the new rotation of the courses, I think that it's really compact out here and you don't have to go very far, it seems like it fits really well. So I think the tournament feels healthy from -- I'm a guy that's played here some and not every year, but I have played here enough to have an understanding of the tournament and I feel like it's in great hands with Larry and the board and the staff going forward. It feels like it's really organized well.

Q. You said you wanted to be an example for younger players too, can you, I know it's probably hard to comment about an individual case, but with Rickie Fowler, for example, got an exemption here last year, obviously with the year he had and he's not playing here this year. Can you just sort of speak to that, some of the rise of these young stars and they don't play in these tournaments and play more overseas?
STEWART CINK: Well I think it's unfair and I know we are here and Rickie may be an example for this week, but Rickie does as much as anybody on the PGA TOUR. These guys can tell you, Rickie doesn't say no. If you ask him for 10 minutes for the media, if you ask him to do a sponsor spot, he's there. So he understands.
Rickie's a really good, he's got a good head on his shoulders. There's a lot of reasons why people choose to play and choose not to play events. I don't know why Rickie's not playing here, but I do know that there's a lot of reasons. Sometimes it just doesn't fit in the schedule, sometimes it does. It's hard to say.
But we have to strike a balance between wanting to support every tournament we can and also what means the best thing for our career for the long-term. And sometimes tournaments just don't fit in the schedule, unfortunately. And Rickie Fowler will be back here, I feel confident.

Q. Is it hard to say no for you guys with all the demands?
STEWART CINK: It's very hard. Look at the tournaments. This is a great four golf courses, we get to play in fantastic weather, it's really convenient, it's easy to get here, everyone's excited to start the year, there's a great charity involved, what reason not to play, right?
Well, what if my son was having surgery at home? Or was graduating in May. I would want to be there for that stuff. So there's a lot of things that pull us away there's a lot of things that pull us to the tournaments. It's just that it's a very complex conversation and I wish that all the players would play five more tournaments a year. I wish they would, but I can't sit here and really say that with a completely honest heart, because I would be hypocritical, because I don't want to play five more tournaments a year myself. I wish everybody else would.
It's a complex thing and I just -- one thing I wish people would do is focus on who is here instead of who is not here. There's a lot of players out there that we don't know their names and there's players that I don't know who they are that can play really good golf and hit tremendous shots and that we'll know who they are one day we just don't know yet.
So let's focus on those people. I wish -- that's one thing I really wish is that everybody would be able to do is to focus on the positives that are going on here.

Q. One more, this tournament in particular, do you feel like this tournament people do that more than maybe any other on TOUR just because of the World Rankings and the last year the top player being ranked number 37, do you feel like that happens more at this tournament?
STEWART CINK: I'm sorry, I don't quite understand your question.

Q. You were saying you wish people would focus more on who is here and who is not. I'm saying, do you think that that happens more with this tournament than any other one TOUR?
STEWART CINK: Well it seems to happen when -- it happens when the top players aren't here or aren't anywhere, if they're not in any city we play in, we always get questions why they're not here. And I don't know why these guys choose not to play. In the past when I haven't played here I can answer why. But I'm one guy and I don't know why the other guys don't, I can't really answer. It does happen though.
Fields, because there's a lot of opportunities to play worldwide fields are, it's important to the tournament to present a great field to their sponsor and to television, it's -- and of course it's part of the product, so that's why the questions happen and I don't second guess those questions at all. I just -- I wish we could focus on who is here.

Q. How about being a good example for older duffers like me?
STEWART CINK: Only thing I can do for you is to show you how to grip the club right. Sorry.

Q. I can't do that either. But thanks. You talked earlier about tweaking some things in your game. What kind of things are there that you maybe work on in a tournament like this?
STEWART CINK: Well, I played a coaching change in the off season, so officially I'm not working with Butch anymore like I was the last eight years, I'm working with a new coach, Pat O'Brien, so it's little changes there is, nothing major at the moment, but just trying to take what I learned from Butch, which was really quite a bit, and really fine tune that and make it, use it in the most efficient way possible.
So there's little changes in my swing that are technical stuff that we don't need to get into, but things that I'm working on that I'm conscious of. And I've got a new golf ball with Nike, new clubs, so some new stuff. It feels like a, it is a new year and it definitely feels like a new year.

Q. Is it O B R I E N?
STEWART CINK: Yeah, it's O whatever that thing is called, B R I E N. Yeah.
MARK STEVENS: Okay. Thank you. One more.

Q. Follow-up on that. Why you decided to make a change.
STEWART CINK: Why? Well, I was with Butch for eight years working together and we're close, close friends and I feel like I plateaued a little bit since the -- if you take away the British Open really, the second half of 2008, 2009, and 2010 really just weren't that spectacular years for me and so I feel like Butch and I sort of got to a place where we kind of plateaued a little bit and so I think it's just time to sort of go on to new pastures.
And Butch, he will do the same thing, believe me, he's got four players and now he has three, and he'll probably have four real soon. Because there's a lot of people that could use Butch Harmon's help and I used it for eight years and got a lot out of it and I'm sure someone else can benefit from it real soon.
MARK STEVENS: Okay, sure the. Thank you.
STEWART CINK: Okay. Thanks.

End of FastScripts

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