Scoring aside, Cink & Son enjoy Tour Championship experience

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Atlanta’s Stewart Cink tried all week at East Lake to snap into focus here on his return to the Tour Championship and his home-away-from-home course. Normally able to wall himself off from the results and concentrate on his next shot, he found himself wandering.

So, he was asked, didn’t your caddie — who also happens to be Cink’s son, Reagan — kick him in the butt a little?

“Oh, he did, he tried,” Cink said, laughing, “but I think when he kicked me in the butt my head was already there. I didn’t extract it.

“I got cleared up a little bit today, I was more myself. But the first three days I could never grasp onto that focus I’ve had at times during the year,” he said. Cink’s return to the Tour Championship read 72-68-71-70 over the par 70 layout. That translates to even-par for the tournament and to a T-26 FedEx Cup finish in the 30-player field.

As was obvious by his review, Cink was clearly disappointed by his play but still had plenty of fun this week. He would allow nothing to mar the end of a two-win season that was made all the sweeter by having his 24-year-old son on the bag almost every step of the way.

In the smaller picture, he found himself distracted by all the elements at play this week. Like playing in front of family and friends. And getting back to this elite field at the age of 48, having been away since 2009, and wanting so very badly to play a little better than this.

“I was probably a little bit overwhelmed by the desire to play great here and that doesn’t always lead to the best results — which this week it didn’t,” he said.

But in the larger scheme, as Stewart said, “We still had a good time. It’s a battle out there every day and I love being out there with (Reagan). It’s a real joy to do your job and have him alongside doing the job with you. It was a blast.”

There wasn’t a lot of sentiment on display Sunday, marking the end of a special season for both father and son. “We tried to keep it normal,” said Reagan. “There were some emotions there, but it felt right to just have a normal day. Even walking down 18, we walked to the ball — he had kind of a dicey lie in the rough (his tee shot had wandered left) — and we talked that out like normal for a long time.”

Both Georgia Tech men, they could take no solace in the football weekend. The Yellow Jackets were upset by Northern Illinois Saturday. Georgia’s win over Clemson also hurt their heart. Better off to not talk about any of that Sunday.

Said Stewart, “I’ve been saying this all week, Georgia Tech fans have two chances to win every week — our game and Georgia’s game. Yesterday was a big loss on both sides.”

As for the immediate future, that’s unclear. Entering this week, the Cinks were thinking that this would be their final tournament together. A Tech grad himself, Reagan had recently married and was contemplating taking a more normal job to start his new life with his wife.

But the father-son/player-caddie dynamic they brought to the course was so gratifying that both spoke more uncertainly about this being their last loop together. They are going to sit back and redraw plans, knowing how this season has opened up so many opportunities for Stewart to play next season.

As for the next few weeks, “I’m leaning toward not playing for a while because I’ve got some transitioning to do, figuring out who’s going to caddie for me next. Still a chance it might be Reagan a little bit. None of it is set in stone yet,” Stewart said.

“Also physically, I don’t have anything really wrong but I just need to rest myself a little bit for a little while,” he added. “I don’t think it would be smart to go straight back to the practice area and the gym tomorrow. This has been a pretty good grind. I’ve played more tournaments this year than in a long while, because I got in more. I’m tired. I think I’m going to take off some time.”