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An Interview with Stewart Cink


September 18, 2004

JULIUS MASON: Stewart Cink, ladies and gentlemen, joining us after his morning matches.

Stewart, some thoughts on the morning and we'll go to Q&A, please.

STEWART CINK: Well, this morning was big for us to come out and at least win the majority of the points to sort of crawl our way back out of this big hole.

I think everybody came out with a clear goal and very focused and less tentativeness, I guess.

Hal talked about being tentative yesterday, in our meeting last night, and he didn't want to see any more tentative play today. So we came out today being a little bit more aggressive and taking a few more chances. It was good to win more of the points than the European Team did today to at least get ourselves back on the right track and this afternoon will be crucial.

Q. Just hoping you can continue along that line about the mood last night when you call got back together and when he came back in, was it embarrassment or anger, what were sort of some of the emotions and how red did his face turn when he was talking to you?

STEWART CINK: I think you guys have it all wrong. You haven't gotten a very good picture of the way Hal is captaining our team. He's not a football coach and he's not got whistles around his neck. He's not embarrassing anybody. He's not getting red in the face.

But just like the golfer that he is, he knows the way to treat players to get the most out of them, and last night, he reminded us what we are, what we have. He didn't come in there in the meeting last night and say, "You guys stink if you don't birdie at least six birdies in the morning, you're sitting out in the afternoon." It wasn't anything like that. Nobody responds to that.

So, the mood was a little, it was definitely somber in the team room after the play was over yesterday. But as everybody got back to the room at the hotel, I think most players did a great job of leaving the golf at the golf course and I think everybody was pretty content with just taking the past and leaving it there. And go on and look to the future. Because all we can do is go up from where we were.

Q. When Hal was here last night, he was pretty clear on how he assessed what had happened, so he had an opinion on what happened and I think he wanted to have you change things, were you agreeing with him when he claimed that you had not played the way you should have played or was there disagreement among all of you?

STEWART CINK: Well, I think you can look at the score board and I can answer that question with the score board. They had 6 1/2 points, we had 1 1/2. Do you think we played the way we think we can play yesterday? I don't think so.

We beat ourselves just as much as they beat us yesterday. No one had a very good day, except for Jay Haas and Chris DiMarco in the afternoon, they played very well. But no one really had a great day.

Part of that is, yeah, it's just golf. But another part of it is, I think we came in here and I think we just, everybody came out a little tentative yesterday. When the blue flags went up on the leaderboard early in the rounds, I think the American team just started trying not to lose more holes instead of trying to win holes back. It's a hard -- it's a hard part of the game to really put your finger on, but between your ears it happened out there and it happened to us as a team yesterday.

Q. If I can make this a two-part question, first of all, Hal didn't want to see tentative play today and that was anything but tentative, the winning putt. If you could talk about that. And also, how important is it to go out symbolically and beat Monty and Harrington who were so strong yesterday?

STEWART CINK: Yeah, they are strong and they will continue to be strong.

For us, winning that match was almost -- it was just as important to keep them off the board as it was for us to get on the board there, because that halted some of their momentum and maybe put some doubt in their minds for later for this afternoon and for tomorrow. So that was really big for us.

This is a chess match out here just as much as it is a golf match. To come out and keep them off the board was huge.

As far as the putt on 16, yeah, that was -- I hit my second shot right where I needed to hit it, being the first one to play, 3-up with three holes to go, back center of the green. I had putted a lot of balls from there in the practice round, anticipating the need to putt from there at some point during the matches and it turned out that my plans worked out well. I had a read and I knew exactly where the ball was going to go except I didn't envision it going into the bottom of the hole at the end, but I'm glad it did.

Q. Just wondering if you could talk a little about Davis, it seemed like he made so many putts today and was that a lift? Obviously it was a lift but how would you characterize his play?

STEWART CINK: Davis played -- he played phenomenally today. I think he was 4- or 5-under on his own ball on an extremely difficult golf course. He hit the fairway almost every hole.

I would go out on a limb and probably not really -- it would be a thick limb and say Davis played better than anybody on the golf course this morning, and maybe so far in the whole Ryder Cup. He played great.

I played well. I didn't make the putts, though. Davis made a lot of putts. I had some chances and didn't make them. That's the way it goes sometimes. At least I got myself some redemption by making the last one.

Q. If any player got beat up overnight after yesterday, it was Phil Mickelson. How much were the players aware of the fact that he sort of had the bulls eye painted on him and were you aware of the fact, did any players go to him specifically to try to pump him back up a little bit?

STEWART CINK: Not that I know of. No one went to him specifically. I know I didn't. I didn't see anyone go up to him and try to pump him up. Phil was with the team all last night. He was his usual self. He's never been one to really be bothered by bumps in the road. You've seen him play golf as much as I have, and he's bold about stepping out there and taking hits, but then he always seems to bounce right back.

So my fingers are crossed for him today that he goes out there and has a real stand-out afternoon.

Q. I understand that Hal showed a video last night, could you describe that? And also, did anybody besides Hal get up and talk during the team meeting?

STEWART CINK: The video was a very creative Bill Murray piece where he was -- and I'm not a Caddyshack fanatic like some guys but his character from Caddyshack. He was talking to the players, not specifically, and because it was really funny how he showed a picture of us like a head shot of every player, and attached to that was the American basketball players from the Olympics. Hal, of course, was Larry Brown. Anyway, it was kind of funny, hard to describe.

He also showed a video of everybody on the team from, I'd say video from the last five years or so, just draining putts, just over and over. It was cool. You've got to see yourself, you got to see some other guys, you got to see some memorable ones and some you had probably not ever seen before, just putt after putt after putt being drained.

Q. What basketball player were you?

STEWART CINK: Lamar Odom, thank you. I don't remember any other players, but I know I was Lamar Odom.

Q. What's it like to have a reputation as such a great putter in this competition in particular?

STEWART CINK: Well, I'm proud to have a reputation like that, if that's the case. It probably adds a little bit of expectation and pressure on me just because everybody expects me to make everything and if I don't, then, "Oh, no, the great putter missed."

I can handle that. I missed some putts this week and I've made a few putts this week. You know, putting is a day-to-day thing, hole-to-hole even. And Ryder Cup puts a lot of stress on your mind and your body and usually the putting stroke is where it comes out first.

I would love to be over the putt that means the Ryder Cup is going either way because I have a lot of confidence in myself. You know, but as far as the way that -- having a reputation like that affects your play here, this course is so challenging from tee-to-green, you know, you don't really even think about your putting until you're actually on the green.

JULIUS MASON: Stewart Cink, folks. Thank you very much.

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