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Cink vows to give his all for back-to-back British Open success

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Stewart Cink ready for St. Andrews
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Stewart Cink promises "fiercely competitive" British Open defense at St Andrews
  • Cink says he was inspired by Lucas Glover in 2009 Turnberry success
  • The Open will celebrate its 150th anniversary at the home of golf next week
  • Two-time winner Greg Norman pulls out of tournament with a shoulder injury
RELATED TOPICS
  • Stewart Cink
  • Greg Norman
  • British Open
  • Golf

(CNN) -- U.S. golfer Stewart Cink has promised a "fiercely competitive" defense of his British Open title at St Andrews next week.

Cink, the world number 34, was a surprise winner of the Claret Jug last season, beating veteran Tom Watson in a play-off to land his first major title.

The British Open will celebrate its 150th anniversary at the sport's spiritual home in Scotland when the event gets underway on Thursday, July 15.

"St. Andrews will be special," Cink told CNN's Living Golf. "Obviously it will be my third Open that I've played there. I just have so much respect for it, the way it has developed over the years and it's [...] amazing that it's remained this good for this long.

"It will also be a time to be fiercely competitive because I really don't want to give that up again."

A year ago at Turnberry, Cink finished level with five-time champion Watson on two under par, before storming to a six-shot victory in the four-hole play-off.

At the end of a major championship, there's always one guy that just seems to have the poise to come and step through the threshold -- that was me that Sunday
--Stewart Cink

Ranked 33 at the time and with only one previous top-10 finish at the championship, Cink says he was inspired by fellow American Lucas Glover, who shocked better-known rivals to land the U.S. Open title last year.

"I looked back and thought, well, if Lucas Glover can win the U.S. Open then why can't I win a major? What's stopping me?

"At the end of a major championship, there's always one guy that just seems to have the poise to come and step through the threshold -- that was me that Sunday. It was humbling and satisfying."

Cink will playing at a St Andrews Open for the third time and thinks he knows the secret to success on the Old Course.

"You need to avoid the bunkers, that's the main thing" he said. "It's probably got the most severe set of bunkers of any Open venue. You really have to position your second shots."

While Watson will be making another bid for his sixth title at St Andrews, another of the sport's legends won't be there.

Australia's Greg Norman, the 1986 and 1993 winner, has pulled out of the tournament because of a shoulder injury.

The 53-year-old, who finished joint third at Royal Birkdale in the 2008 Open, has not played an event since undergoing shoulder surgery in September.

"I'm disappointed that I will not be able to participate in this year's Open Championship, but unfortunately, it is taking me longer than expected to regain my competitive form," Norman told the Open's official website.

Norman has been replaced in the field by his fellow Australian Jason Day, who won the Byron Nelson Championship in May at the age of 22.