Golf: Cink holds on
CROMWELL, Conn. ó Stewart Cink had a reputation as a good golfer who just couldn’t finish off a tournament.
His collapse during the fourth round of the PODS Championship in March left him with just one victory in the nine career events where he had the lead going into the last day.
On Sunday, he put that behind him, holding off a late charges from Tommy Armour III and defending champion Hunter Mahan to win the Travelers Championship by a stroke. With the victory, Cink was projected to go to a career-high No. 6 in the world ranking.
Cink shot a 3-under 67 ó following rounds of 66, 64 and 65 ó to finish at 18 under for his fifth career victory and first since 2004. Armour (65) and Mahan (65) tied for second.
Cink earned his first career win here as a rookie, and came into the day with a two-stroke lead over Heath Slocum.
“I know there has been some talk that I have not been a closer,” Cink said. “They had every right to say that, because I felt the same way myself. So I felt that I had something to prove to myself.”
He finished with a career-best 262 over the four rounds, five shots better than his 1997 total of 267. It was his first win after six top-10 finishes this year, earning him $1.08 million. It also pushed him to third place in the FedEx Cup standings behind Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and into second place in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings.
For a while, though, it looked as though the tournament was heading for a three-way playoff.
Leading by a stroke, Cink hit a 365-yard tee shot on the 18th into the crowd to the right, and his approach went just over the green. But he recovered nicely, getting up and down from just under 2 feet to save par.
“To stand over that last putt, even though it was only 2 feet long, and to knock it in the middle, it was a great feeling,” he said.
Armour, who at 48 was looking to become the oldest winner on the PGA Tour this season, shot a bogey-free 65. He put his approach on 17 about 4 feet from the pin and made birdie. But he missed a 37-foot putt on 18 that would have given him a share of the lead.
Mahan, looking to become the first repeat champion here since Mickelson in 2002, had birdies on his final two holes to make it interesting. He hit an 18-foot putt on the 17th, then hit a wedge shot 3 feet from the pin on 18.
Mahan earned his first tour victory here a year ago, making a birdie on the first playoff hole to capture the title over journeyman Jay Williamson. Mahan tied for second behind J.J. Henry in 2006.
“I played really well,” he said. “I had a chance to win on the back nine on Sunday, so I couldn’t be more happy.”
Slocum was on Cink’s heels for most of the round. But Cink matched him birdie for birdie on Nos. 6, 9, 13 and 15.
Cink hit the green on 16 and made par. Slocum came up short, pitched his ball well right and ended with a bogey that knocked him two shots behind, where he finished.