Ramblin’ Wreck duo on fire in Wales
NEWPORT, Wales – Matt Kuchar and Stewart Cink were an unlikely pairing at the start of the week. They both went to Georgia Tech, but Kuchar, five years Cink’s junior, only knew the 2009 British Open champion by reputation while in school.
Clearly the “Ramblin’ Wreck” ties went beyond college allegiances for Cink.
“I asked for Matt,” Cink said during the seven-hour weather delay on Friday. “He and I have been friends for a long time. We have a lot in common and I love the way he plays. And so I’m honored to be his partner for his first Ryder Cup match.”
Cink has had just a ho-hum year, missing the Tour Championship and earning only three top 10s a year after winning his first major. Cink was a solid selection for U.S. Captain Corey Pavin because of his Ryder Cup experience, but when asked, Pavin talked about Cink’s ability to make birdies. Cink certainly played like he was honored to show Kuchar the ropes in his first match.
After a bogey on the first hole, Cink went on a tear, making three birdie putts over 25 feet and recording five birdies in the first 11 holes to take a 2-up lead before darkness postponed the matches until Saturday morning.
“When your ball’s going in the hole it feels great,” Cink said after play on Friday. “The hole looks big and the ball was rolling nice and I played really well, I really did, and Kuch is to be a big part of this match tomorrow, I have a feeling.”
With that comment, Cink sounded a lot like Ben Crenshaw when he had a good feeling the night before singles matches at the 1999 Ryder Cup at the Country Club of Brookline, and the United States came back from the largest deficit in Ryder Cup history. Gut feelings, however, seem to be part and parcel of the U.S. team in 2010.
Making putts goes a long way, too.
“It’s always great to make putts,” Pavin said when addressing Cink’s torrid start. “That’s how you do well in the Ryder Cup – you make putts, and he made some today. You know, maybe it will spread to the other guys, too.”
Kuchar seemed like a bystander during most of the match, but according to Cink it was Kuchar’s solid play that freed up Cink to go after putts that maybe he wouldn’t have if his partner was in trouble.
‘This morning the greens were faster because we were having them squeegeed on almost every putt,” Cink said of the changing conditions from morning to afternoon. So they were nice and freshly smoothed out before every putt. This afternoon they were allowed to grow a little bit, puffy and little bouncy because of foot traffic and softness and a little slower, but it wasn’t a huge adjustment.”
Now the “Ramblin’ Wreck” duo has to finish off the two Irishmen, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, to record an unlikely point in the USA column. For now, Kuchar seems comfortable letting Cink do the heavy lifting.
“It was awesome,” Kuchar said of Cink’s performance. “I’m a big fan of Stewart Cink’s and to watch him do what he did out there was very exciting.”