Cink justifies his pick with a singles rout to remember
For the USA, Sunday's highlight had to be Stewart Cink's dazzling display in dealing Sergio Garcia his first defeat of the week. Cink got Garcia down with four early birdies, then finished him off with some awesome putting.
By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor
September 24, 2006
STRAFFAN, Ireland -- There isn't much the players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team will savor as they go their separate ways after the 36th edition of the biennial matches at the K Club.
Stewart Cink, however, will certainly take great pride in his singles performance against Sergio Garcia.
Garcia, seemingly as unstoppable in the Ryder Cup as the bulls that run through Pamplona in his home country of Spain each year, ran into a brick-wall matador in Cink on Sunday. It wasn't even that Garcia was that bad -- Cink was just that good.
In an otherwise forgettable week, Cink turned in an outstanding effort to tame Garcia at a crucial time early Sunday when the fate of the Ryder Cup was still in doubt.
The match started in a driving rain with the exuberant European crowd going berserk for Garcia on the first tee. Cink knocked the sound down about 1,000 decibels by making birdie on four of his first five holes to take a commanding 3-up lead. He wasn't just sticking shots, he was making putts -- and that doesn't even begin to describe it.
Cink had a hot putter, don't you think, Sergio?
"No, I don't think he had a hot putter," the Spaniard said. "I think his putter melted, must have melted. I've never seen anything like it. We came out in the rain and he starts out birdie-birdie on me, and then I birdie [No. 3] to get it back to 1-down and I'm thinking, well, here we go. Then he goes birdie-birdie again. So, I'm playing pretty decent in tough conditions and 1-under through five and I'm 3-down."
Back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6 didn't help Garcia's cause. In the blink of an eye, he was trailing 5-down through just seven holes. Garcia obviously wasn't facing the same Cink who in two previous Ryder Cups singles matches lost 2 & 1 and 3 & 2, respectively.
"Well, it was really a dream match-up today for me, because I felt like I had something to prove after going 0-2 in my first two Ryder Cup singles matches," Cink said. "I really wanted to go out there and stay focused and give it 100 percent. I knew it was going to be tough against Sergio, because he's one of the top two or three guys on their team, and obviously his record this week [a flawless 4-0 going into singles], he showed that it's not just a fluke -- he's played great."
Garcia has more flair than any other player on either of the two sides. He's got some resilience, too. Despite the early 5-down margin, Garcia fought back to win two holes and felt like he was back in the match at 3-down through 11 holes.
That's when Cink decided he had made so many short birdie putts that it was now time to start draining some bombs and crush Garcia out like a cigarette butt.
In a span of four holes, Cink rolled home birdie putts from 50 feet (No. 12), 30 feet (No. 13) and 20 feet (No. 15) to close out the match, 4 & 3.
"He holes a 60-footer on me on 12 and then another 40-footer on the next -- I had to make a 20-footer to halve," said Garcia, exaggerating the lengths a tad.
Fifteen was the sweetest. Garcia chipped in from the rough for birdie, only to watch Cink hole the 20-footer to halve the hole and win the match.
"And then to finish up on 15, I chip in and he rolls off another 20-footer, so thank you very much and see you in two years," Garcia joked, alluding to the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla.
"It felt really good to go out there, and with [Captain] Tom [Lehman]'s trust putting me in the No. 2 spot to hopefully get a point, and to get one, I felt it was probably my best match-play experience of my life today," said Cink, who prior to Sunday's singles match was 0-1-3 in the Ryder Cup.
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