__AGE:__35 | __HEIGHT:__6-feet-4 | DRIVER: Nike SQ Sumo2 Tour,9.5 degrees (bent to almost 11), 45-inch shaft | BALL: Nike One Tour | __2008 DRIVING DISTANCE:__296.9 yards (ranked 28th) | TOP-THREE FINISHES IN '08: 5I'm not the straightest driver out here. Hitting 14 fairways in a round is like a pie-in-the-sky dream for me. But I have picked up quite a bit of distance. My swing is more efficient than it was a few years ago, thanks to my work with Butch Harmon and my trainer, Chris Noss. I'm delivering a ton of energy to the ball, and I'm still getting longer every year. At the Ryder Cup, I was out there in the 325-yard range. It's changed the style of my game, really. I'm able to use my driver as a weapon now.--Stewart Cink
SWING KEY: WIDE LOAD
Stewart Cink knows the bigger the arc, the bigger the driveBy Ron KaspriskeThat high-hands finish. When you watch Stewart Cink swing his driver, it's the first thing you notice. It looks a bit odd, but when you consider he's 20 yards longer off the tee now than he was 10 years ago (he averaged 276.9 yards in 1999), who cares what it looks like, right? Plus, there's a reason for that high finish."I try to keep my width to its very maximum, and that includes the finish," says Cink. "I keep my grip as far away from my head as possible throughout the entire swing. If I stay nice and wide -- and patient -- I know I'm going to hit the ball a long way."Learning how far Cink hits it might be a surprise to some people, but Butch Harmon says it's because Cink takes full advantage of his 6-feet-4 frame."Being that tall, there's a lot more time for things to go wrong in the swing," Harmon says. "Stewart used to swing past parallel, and then get very narrow on the downswing. He's made some really good changes."His spine would back up as he swung into the ball, and he'd have to flip at it with his hands. Now he's wide going back and wide coming down. He's become one of the longest hitters on tour," says Harmon.Now that his length has improved, Cink says he can focus on being more accurate off the tee. He was a woeful 181st on tour in driving accuracy in 2008 (hitting just 55.27 percent of the fairways). But at the tour event he won last year -- the Travelers Championship in June -- Cink was No. 1 in total driving (a combination of the distance and accuracy stats)."I don't think that was a coincidence," he says. "It's a huge key for me. With my length, if I can put it in play, I'm competitive."So how will he get more accurate? Believe it or not, Cink says the key is to not think about it. If he tries to hit fairways, he starts to steer the club, which hurts his timing. The way to improve accuracy is better tempo, he says, and that'll be the focus of his practice this year.
The shaft is along his toe line, not pulling to the inside, which he used to struggle with.
Stewart's backswing is wider now. When his arms stay out, they can swing back in front of him on the downswing.Inset (left): Stewart's backswing is wider now. When his arms stay out, they can swing back in front of him on the downswing.(above right): Here's the same position on the downswing. His arms are still wide -- almost exactly as they were.
Check out the space between his hands and head -- that's great width at the top.
Notice his left knee is straightening, not sliding forward, which used to cause the club to drop behind him.
Stewart has a beautiful, on-balance finish. For a big man, he really swings within himself.