Early signs of Cink's rise back to the top

Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:08pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LA QUINTA, California (Reuters) - Having spent most of the last four years in the golfing doldrums, former British Open champion Stewart Cink gave himself a welcome boost as he charged into contention at the Humana Challenge on Saturday.

The 39-year-old American, winless on the PGA Tour since his playoff victory over fellow American Tom Watson at the 2009 British Open, made the most of ideal scoring conditions in the California desert to fire a six-under-par 66 in the third round.

His bogey-free display lifted him into a five-way tie for second place at 17 under, five strokes behind pacesetting compatriot Scott Stallings, who took control of the tournament with a sizzling 63.

"It was a good, solid round," Cink told reporters after signing off with a two-putt birdie at the par-five 18th. "I hit a lot of fairways. These courses, even though the scoring is low, there's danger out there.

"So if you keep it out of the penalty situations, you're going to have a lot of looks at birdie and you can shoot some pretty low scores and you don't have to be spectacular.

"And that's what I did today. I took advantage of my opportunities here and there and made one or two pretty good saves. But it was a pretty nondescript round to be honest."

Cink was especially pleased to soar into contention after missing the cut in his first PGA Tour event of the season at last week's Sony Open in Hawaii.

"I was playing really well in the off-season," said the tour veteran, who has triumphed six times on the U.S. circuit. "I was really in control and I felt like I was doing some good stuff.   Continued...

Stewart Cink of the U.S. watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship PGA golf tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina in this file photo taken May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane