Despite an otherwise solid career on the PGA Tour, Stewart Cink hasn't exactly earned a reputation as a great closer.
In fact, heading into Sunday's final round of the Travelers Championship, Cink was just 1-for-9 holding leads after 54 holes on the PGA Tour. His last victory came at the 2004 NEC Invitational.
But Cink proved something to both himself and critics, finishing with a 3-under-par 67 at TPC River Highlands to hold on for a one-shot victory over defending champion Hunter Mahan and Tommy Armour III in Cromwell, Conn. Cink's 72-hole total score of 262 (18 under) is a new personal best; his previous low total score for 72 holes was 266, recorded at both the 1998 Travelers Championship and at the 2003 Valero Texas Open.
"I can't believe it was this long since the last one," Cink told reporters. "I feel like I've played well enough along the way to have won a couple but, sometimes when you have to wait a little bit you have to go through a few extra trials and it seems a little bit sweeter."
Cink earned 4,500 FedEx Cup points and moved to third in the regular season standings with 15,039 points for the year, trailing only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. With the win, Cink is expected to climb to a career-best No. 6 in the world golf rankings.
However, Cink was well aware of his struggles to hold on to leads in the final round. The last time the 35-year-old Georgia Tech graduate held the 54-hole lead was this year's PODS Championship back in March, but he faltered with a 74 and tied for second.
In the past, Cink said his final-round failures were due both to his own shortcomings and the great play of other golfers. Sunday, Cink said he was determined not to let another opportunity slip away after shooting 66, 64 and 65 to lead after both the second and third rounds.
"I think I got myself ready, got myself intense to the point where I could block out most distractions, and I played mostly mistake-free today," Cink said.
Cink recorded the first of his four PGA Tour victories in 1997 at the Travelers Championship and nearly defended his title with a tie for second in 1998. He's now the fourth player in the tournament's 58-year history to win multiple times, and he posted the lowest winning score in the tournament since Notah Begay III won in 2000.
The victory was good for $1.08 million and pushed Cink's 2008 earnings to more than $2.6 million.
With his runner-up finish, Mahan has now made five straight cuts at the Travelers Championship. Mahan remains the leading money-winner in Travelers Championship history with $2,046,918.
"I thought I gave myself great chances on the back nine there and I didn't feel like I played it badly," Mahan told reporters. "I just didn't make them — just didn't quite read them the way I needed to — but happy with the way I played [and] happy with the chance that I did give myself."
Armour also finished at 17-under par. His tie for second is his best showing since ending the 2004 Chrysler Championship tied for second.
June 23, 2008
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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