McGladrey Classic: Cink and Kirk with Mastery bullet points

Three rounds in the books for the McGladrey Classic at the Seaside Course at Sea Island, Georgia, and there is a tie at the top between Andrew Svoboda and Will MacKenzie. They are both at 12-under and have a 1-shot lead over yesterday’s leader, Russell Henley.

There have been some pretty low scores, but that said, the course is holding its own. Stewart Cink’s 63 was the low round of the day which got him to T4 and MacKenzie got his T1 with a 65. And while there were a lot of 3- and 4-unders, the cumulative scoring average for the three days is just under par at 69.553.

Cink was asked about the low numbers and at what point in his round he knew he could push it lower. You can make a birdie here and there, but when do they start to string together? 

“Well, [starting on the back] I got under par early five through the first six, so at that point I knew there was no question we could go fairly low, but it’s hard to keep the accelerator going and keep pressing.  Naturally you kind of go into neutral a little bit, and I did, and I parred a lot of holes there for a while.”

“Made a great par save on 4 and missed the fairway, and the par save kind of kicked me in, and I felt like I got a little bit of renewed excitement and reeled off three more birdies in a row and a good par save I just hit on 9.”

And he talked a little bit about how shooting low rounds is almost more of a mindstate than it is some sort of sudden Eureka moment with a golf swing:

“Well, I think that shooting low rounds is sort of —  it’s an intangible out here.  It really doesn’t show up in the statistics much, but if you can get that feeling, get the juices flowing and continue to post a low round and play all the way through the finishing hole, you get that in your mind where you can do it, then it almost unlocks a lot of confidence”

“And I felt like last week had a couple of low rounds in Vegas, and I wasn’t alone by any stretch of the imagination, but it feels good just to be able to get that flowing where you know you can do it again and again and again, and it just leads to good things.”

Another piece of mastery wisdom came from last year’s McGladrey winner, Chris Kirk, who used to live at Sea Island and now resides in Atlanta. He went on to have a fabulous year also winning the Deutsche Bank in Boston and amassing $4.8 million in the process. He made enough of a splash over the end of the season — a T4 in the Tour Championship — that he was a serious contender for a Captain’s pick for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. This week he sits at T4 with Cink.

His contribution to our mastery encyclopedia was his conversation about the need to pace yourself over a long season. The mental and emotional investment is high enough without also layering on a jacked up emotional state:

“I think part of what’s helped me this week is that I haven’t really had that high of expectations for myself, and you know, so when I [make mistakes] like that, it probably doesn’t piss me off quite as much as it normally would.”

“This is my first tournament of the year and I’m just trying to ease into it and now I’m in a good spot, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep playing well tomorrow and just keep plugging along.”

And uncharacteristically for a Tour pro, he is very laid back about the whole thing:

“But I’m not really that concerned about it, to be honest with you.  I’d love to win tomorrow.  I’d love to play a great round tomorrow.  I don’t know, maybe that’s just from being not a rookie anymore. We play 30 or so of these every year, so each one, you can’t put too much pressure on yourself or too much weight on it or you’ll drive yourself crazy.”

“I’m hoping to be doing this for a long time, so hoping to have hundreds and hundreds of more events and a lot of other chances to win tournaments.”

For someone who has become as successful as he has, he has a sort of lackluster persona. Now we have a glimpse into just why that might be. It will be interesting to see if his laissez-faire approach produces the goods again this year.

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