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Stewart Cink On Fighting To Keep His Card, Twitter and Barbecue

Stewart Cink
Ben Van Hook
Stewart Cink says he's taking a break from Twitter because of the negativity.

It's been nearly five years since you beat Tom Watson in a playoff at the 2009 Open Championship for your first major win, but all people seem to remember is Tom Watson coming oh-so-close. Fair or unfair?

That's understandable. It was such a big story, so I get that. It doesn't detract at all from what I remember about it. I remember playing great, and whether it was Watson or whomever else I was battling against at the top of the leaderboard, it didn't matter.

Watson, then 59, was a huge fan favorite at Turnberry. Be honest—was any part of you rooting for him?

No. Tom being in contention actually helped me focus on something other than what I was doing. I wasn't so much rooting for him, but I was curious to see how it unfolded, how he was playing. I get pretty nervous, but I didn't give much thought to my play until the back nine that Sunday. Then it was, "Okay, I'm near the lead—let's play and see what happens."

In a word, how did it feel to win your first major, at 36?

In one word? Validation. We spend so many days and weeks away from home, missing out on stuff. It's a sacrifice. So a lot of times out here on Tour, if you're not on top of your game, you wonder, "Is it all worth it? What am I doing?" Capturing my major validated all that time I spent away from home and my family. My wife and sons were there to see it happen, and that made it very special.

You used to be the leader in the Twitter clubhouse, but now weeks may go by without a peep. Have you gone off the grid? Are you burnt out on tweeting?

The way I started using Twitter was by keeping a constant back and forth with my followers. Over Twitter's life, it seems like the negativity has gotten out of control. So for someone who reads all their replies, it just gets depressing.

Someone recently posted, "can't stand watching [Cink] play" and "#worstmajorwinner ever."

People get a kick out of being negative. They don't expect anybody to read it. Well, I read my replies. And it got to be pretty annoying. Twitter is still fun. If I have a fun thing or an observation I want to share with people, I'll still do it, but I won't go back and read any of my replies.

You're now 40, with six career wins on Tour. Have you gone through any sort of golf midlife crisis?

You can run out of motivations sometimes. I've had a good career, but I don't think I've done as well as I could have. I consider myself to be an underachiever. Once you hit 40, it's not physical, and it's not mental. It's more motivational. It's about grinding out a 74 instead of a 76 to give yourself a chance to make a cut. Motivations can dwindle when you struggle.

On the topic of motivation, the Tour exemption you earned by winning the British Open ends after this season. If you lose your card, would you go the route of getting back to the big tour by playing the Web.com Tour?

If I felt I had enough game, sure. There's no shame in going back and earning your spot. I've got to earn my card this year, unless I want to start burning my career-money-list exemptions, and I don't want to do that. I want to use those when I'm 55. I want to be competitive and I want to win. I want to go back and play Kapalua, in 2015! At this age and point in my career, I know I can still win. I've done it before—it's just a question of getting out of my own way and doing it again.

You dabbled with a long putter for several years. What are your thoughts on the anchor ban, which starts in 2016?

It's a bad decision. I don't think it's necessary. [Anchoring] doesn't make putting easier. [The ban] takes a lot of people out of the game, and I don't mean the pro game. Golf isn't healthy enough, business-wise, to be making the game a lot harder than it already is. If anything, we ought to be making golf easier.

You're into barbecue. Which do you enjoy more, eating it or cooking it?

Well, three friends and I have a barbecue team, and we compete in cook-offs. We won the ribs category in Atlanta this year against 41 other pro teams. We're pretty good. So I'll go with cooking it over eating it. If I enjoyed eating it as much as cooking it, I'd weigh about 300 pounds [laughs].

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