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Braves proud of British Open champ Cink

Braves proud of Open champ Cink

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ATLANTA -- As Tom Watson's miraculous run toward a British Open title at age 59 ended with a thud after losing a four-hole playoff to Stewart Cink, the hearts of countless golf fans across the country sank in disappointment. A Watson victory would have been one of the most improbable and heart-warming stories in sports history, but he fell just short of hoisting the Claret Jug.

But in Cink's hometown of Atlanta, there were more than a few happy golf fans, including in the Braves clubhouse before their series finale against the Mets.

"Everyone wanted to see the old guy win, but I'm glad Cink won because he's someone I consider a friend," said Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton.

Pendleton, who said he doesn't consider himself an avid golf fan, arrived at Turner Field on Sunday and learned that Watson was putting for par on No. 18 at Turnberry to win the championship. When Pendleton learned that it was his buddy, Cink, who was just a stroke off the lead, he knew instantly who he would be rooting for after Watson missed his putt to force the playoff.

"Of course it would have been an awesome story if Watson would have been able to do it," Pendleton said. "It would be a remarkable achievement. But I don't know Tom Watson. I know Stewart Cink."

Both Pendleton's and Cink's children attend the same Atlanta-area school, and the two men actually worked the carpool line together at school on a few occasions. Beyond being an outstanding athlete and golfer, Pendleton found Cink to be a great person.

"He's just an awesome dude," Pendleton said. "If he wasn't Stewart Cink the golfer, he would be loved for being just a personable guy."

Cink is no stranger to the Braves either. Former Atlanta and current Rangers pitcher Kevin Millwood is a good friend of the former Georgia Tech star, and Millwood invited Cink to Spring Training one year. Bench coach Chino Cadahia followed Cink for a few holes as he played at Disney's Magnolia Course during a tournament.

"He's a good guy," Cadahia said. "I'm happy he won. And he played great all this week and especially in the playoff. He can really bomb the ball."

Another former Braves player close to Cink is Andruw Jones, who hosted a charity golf tournament in Atlanta that Cink often participated in.

Braves catcher Brian McCann, who lives somewhat close to Cink in Metro Atlanta, was happy to see the Open winner come from his hometown. McCann said he has met Cink a few times and that his wife is good friends with Cink's wife.

"I met him a couple of times," McCann said. "He's a great guy. We cheered for him a lot."

Pendleton says the experience of watching Cink tee off at Jones' charity golf tournaments is one of the most amazing things he's seen in sports.

"I had always wanted to see a pro tee off and see how far they could hit it," Pendleton said. "I'm glad I got to see it. It's amazing what those guys are able to do."

Adam Rosenberg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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