Stewart Cink says he's inspired by wife's fight against cancer


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Justin Thomas won the 99th PGA Championship for his first career major title, and the congratulations came pouring in from around the sports world.
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In April, Stewart Cink and Ben Crenshaw each received the Jim Murray Award from the Golf Writers Association of America for their cooperative and accommodating relationship with journalists.

Next month, Cink will receive the Payne Stewart Award presented by Southern Company for his respect of the game’s traditions, his charitable arm, his devotion to growing the game and his distinguished manner on the course.

Cink is the 20th recipient of the award, a group that includes Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson and Crenshaw. The annual award honors Stewart’s values of character, charity and sportsmanship. Stewart, an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, died in a plane accident the week of the 1999 Tour Championship.

“What the award does it highlights not just Stewart Cink doing a lot of charity work, or Lisa Cink (his wife), but it’s a lot of golfers. It’s what all the golfers do,” Cink told reporters Monday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. “ … It just highlights that there’s work done off the course that even outside of the wonderful umbrella of the PGA Tour and what it does for giving, this award, yes, it’s recognition, but it’s also a highlight that it’s not just me, it’s not just one person, it’s just an extension of what the PGA Tour is all about.

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“I’m really proud of this. I’m not really into golf for recognition too much, but this is a recognition that I’m very, very proud of. It’s not just about me. I’m proud that golf has given me values, given me so much in addition to a livelihood and a career. It’s just so much more than that.”

Cink will receive the award in a ceremony Sept. 19 in conjunction with the Tour Championship, the final event of the FedExCup Playoffs.

He is a member at East Lake and has been a huge supporter of the East Lake Foundation, which has done tremendous work for the community. It’s just one of many charities Cink supports. Cink and his wife have created the Cink It Challenge to support two local charities — the Pregnancy Resource Center of Gwinnett and Gwinnett Medical Center Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

Cink, 44, joined the PGA Tour in 1997. He took a leave of absence from golf in May of 2016 when his wife, Lisa, was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She is in sustained remission and once again is accompanying her husband out on the Tour.

“Lisa’s been fighting now for about a year and a half. I’ve watched her fight. Just seeing the nature of what she’s done and how she’s really left no stone unturned has kind of inspired me to sort of leave no stone unturned as far as my career,” Cink said. “ … I’ve learned a lot from my wife just by being present and seeing her, what she’s done and how she’s handling the inherent fears and concerns. So easy to look backwards and wonder things, but she’s inspired me. I think the quality of my play has been definitely enhanced by seeing her and being inspired by her, what’s she’s done.”

Among his six Tour titles was the 2009 British Open, where he toppled the fairytale effort of five-time Open champion Tom Watson, who was trying to win at age 59. Cink won in a playoff.

“Stewart Cink epitomizes the ideals around which the Payne Stewart Award is built – character, charity and sportsmanship,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement. “ … When his wife Lisa dug in for her fight against breast cancer, Stewart was a pillar of strength and provided an admirable sense of perspective. He had done similarly a few years earlier when he won the Open Championship, even as many were cheering on the sentimental favorite, Tom Watson. Stewart smiled. He understood. In every sense of the words he showed character and sportsmanship.”

Cink has played in more the 500 Tour events over 21 years. He also won three times on the Web.com Tour in 1996 and was voted that tour’s Player of the Year. Cink has represented the United States four times in the Presidents Cup, five times in the Ryder Cup and twice in the World Cup of Golf.

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