Congratulations to Stewart Earnest Cink for his win this past weekend. Given that the average age of players that win on the PGA Tour is 31, posting a victory at 47 is pretty remarkable. It’s not surprising that Cink won a tournament. Afterall, this was his second win of the year and eighth career win. He has one major under his belt winning at the Open Championship in 2009 in a playoff against then 59 year old Tom Watson. In addition, Cink has played on numerous President’s Cup and Ryder Cup teams. Cink is a seasoned veteran who knows how to win and compete at the highest levels of his sport.
If you’ve read my newsletter articles in the past, you know how much I value post-round interviews as a window into the minds of professional golfers. Stewart Cink’s post-round interview after winning the RBC Heritage at Harbor Town this past week was no exception. In fact, there are so many references to how the mental game helped him win, I don’t know where to start. For the purposes of this article, however, I want to focus on something Cink talks about as a critical factor in his victory and something we have recently been emphasizing with our junior golfers here at GPC, and that is tournament preparation.
Given his age and recent run of success, the media has done a great job of sensationalizing the reason behind Cink’s resurrection. In particular, there have been references to his Christian faith, his gratitude for his family and friends, and the positive influence his son, Reagan, has had on his game since he started caddying for him. Not surprisingly, the very first question Cink was asked in the post-round interview that I linked above tried to lure Cink into agreeing that the reason he had won was due to these extraneous factors. However, Cink didn’t take the bait. When asked what was different about his victory this week when compared to others, Cink gave an earnest response, “Really, it’s nothing we really did different this week. We really didn’t approach anything differently. This is what we’ve been doing…Our game plan was solid…This course demands so much discipline…We were able to stay committed believing the game plan was there for a reason.”
Tournament preparation, game planning, and discipline to the plan are often overlooked elements of the mental game. However, when executed with commitment and belief, having a well thought out game plan can be the most important determinants of tournament success. Although Cink goes on to discuss how meaningful it was to have his son on the bag and his family share in the win, they were not the reason he won, they only made it sweeter.