Cink at his best a week too late for majors

Cink at his best a week too late for majors

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Based on his record, Stewart Cink won’t win this week at the Bridgestone Invitational.

But don’t bet against him in two weeks at the Wyndham Championship — right after the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

“All of my tournament wins have come the week after majors, including one on the Nationwide Tour,” Cink said Wednesday during preparations for the opening round of the Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club.

Cink captured his fifth PGA Tour title last month at the Travelers. Naturally, that came seven days after the final round of the U.S. Open.

He also has won the Greater Hartford in 1997 the week after the U.S. Open; at Hilton Head in 2000 and again in 2004 the week after the Masters; and the 2004 NEC Invitational, the predecessor of the Bridgestone, which followed that year’s PGA Championship.

“You play in a major, and after that you feel like you’re pretty well prepared to play in any tournament,” Cink said, attempting to explain his majors-plus-one success.

Cink is satisfied with his career. It’s just that he’d like to win a major instead of always basking in the afterglow of one.

“As long as I keep on having wins, I’m OK with it,” he said. “But eventually I’d like to try to shift it back a week and win a major. My timing has always been bad.”

MICKELSON’S MATH: Phil Mickelson and his short-game guru, Dave Pelz, work with a software program that analyzes tour statistics and applies them to various top venues.

The Left-handed professor offered an example of the wonders revealed by the program — and closed with a pop quiz.

“If you increase any statistical category across the board, it lowers scores,” Mickelson explained. “OK, 10 percent fewer putts, 10 percent more greens, 10 percent closer to the hole, 10 percent more fairways — every one lowers scores except longer driving distance.”

Warming to the subject, he added, “There’s one golf course in America where 10 percent longer driving equates to lower scores. What would you think it would be?”

After a pregnant pause, he smiled and said, “Augusta National.”

NATIONAL ICON: Even before he captured his second consecutive British Open two weeks ago at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington was one of the most famous celebrities in his Irish homeland.

In the media frenzy after his latest victory, he has faced his share of almost an embarrassing amount of praise from a proud nation.

“A question came up at home about how do I rate now in terms of sportsmen in Irish history,” Harrington said Wednesday. “As much as it’s a valid conversation for two guys sitting in the pub over a pint to discuss whether I’m as good as somebody else was, it’s not for me to get into.”

Instead, Harrington has tried to remember what got him those two major championships.

“I’m not the guy who can fly in on a Wednesday evening and not play his practice rounds and not do the right things — and all of a sudden have a good week,” he said. “I’m the guy … I got here and was practicing on Monday. I know if I want to play good golf, I’ve got to do the same things I do every week and be prepared to go out there.”

WIE VS. MEN: With Michelle Wie playing this week at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, Stewart Cink wished her the best — while offering a gentle criticism.

Wie has missed the cut in all seven previous forays on the PGA Tour and has struggled so far in her young LPGA Tour career.

“I hope she makes the cut in one of these (men’s) tournaments and maybe that will satisfy her, or her parents or whoever are behind it,” Cink said. “I hope they’re satisfied soon and she can just be allowed to grow up and play golf against her competitors. The LPGA Tour offers a lot of competitiveness out there, and she’s obviously had her struggles. I just hope that she can be allowed to just blossom into the great player that she can be.”

NO BAGS TO CHECK: It wasn’t until after Padraig Harrington and his wife were standing at the baggage claim in Chicago that he realized that he had left his clothing bag back in his bedroom in Dublin.

“My wife looked at me and said, ‘You’re lucky you won the Open two weeks ago. We’re going to give you a pass on this one,”‘ he said with a laugh.

DIVOTS: Anthony Kim is still sore after taking batting practice with the Boston Red Sox on Monday night. … Harrington is building a house in North Carolina “to have a base over here to bring the family and get away from it.” … Cleveland native Charlie Sifford, the first black to earn a tour card and to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, was honored by the tournament as its 2008 Ambassador of Golf. … No. 1 Tiger Woods is home recuperating from knee surgery, but the next 19 players in the world rankings are in the 80-player field at the Bridgestone.

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