Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cink Believes Spieth Will Shrug off Masters

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cink Believes Spieth Will Shrug off Masters

Article excerpt

GREENSBORO, Ga. -- Stewart Cink knows all about making a colossal mistake to lose a major championship.

In one of the most embarrassing and futile finishes at the 72nd hole of a major, Cink, Retief Goosen and Mark Brooks each three- putted the final hole of the 2002 U.S. Open at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.

In Cink's case, he was trying to get out of Goosen's way on the 18th green when he missed an 18-inch bogey putt. All Goosen had to do was two-putt from 12 feet for the victory, but he missed his birdie attempt, then missed the 2 -footer coming back to drop into a Monday playoff with Brooks.

If Cink doesn't miss, he, too, would have been involved in the playoff and - who knows? - maybe he wins the U.S. Open. It was one of the strangest, most inept finishes to any major championship in recent memory

That miss, though, didn't ruin Cink's career. A two-time winner, he came back to win four more times on the PGA Tour, including the 2009 British Open in a playoff with Tom Watson.

The subject of redemption came up the other day at Reynolds Plantation, approximately 75 minutes from Augusta National, when Cink watched Jordan Spieth blow a five-shot lead with nine holes remaining to lose the Masters less than 24 hours earlier. Cink doesn't think the collapse will hurt Spieth going forward.

"I think he took it all in stride," Cink said. "He birdied the next hole. All week he bounced back from rough patches with real brilliance and I think that's a good example of what he will probably go and do from here on out.

"He's young, he's mentally strong, he's already proven he can do it. I just don't think there's a lot of room for doubt in that mind of his."

Cink compared the situation to the 2011 Masters when Rory McIlroy blew a four-shot lead and shot 80 on the final day. Two months later, McIlroy won the U.S. Open by eight shots at Congressional Country Club.

"I don't think Jordan Spieth is going to have much trouble at all," Cink said.

Putting sense

Spieth represents the new wave of putting styles. The best putter on the PGA Tour has employed the cross-handed style, also known as left hand low, for almost as long as he's been playing. He also looks at the hole when he's putting from inside five feet.

McIlroy, apparently liking what he saw of Spieth, tried to fix his putting problem by switching to the cross-handed style last month. Phil Mickelson still uses a conventional putting grip on long putts, but has been switching to the claw grip on shorter putts.

Adam Scott has been forced to abandon his anchor-style putting because of the new USGA rules, but that didn't stop him from winning twice and finishing second another time in three events in Florida using a conventional style with a shorter putter. And employing that rather odd technique of using his fingers to determine the break. …

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