Stewart Cink strolls to his third RBC Heritage victory
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – With his wife of nearly 30 years walking all 18 holes outside the gallery ropes for some time now and one of (...)
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – With his wife of nearly 30 years walking all 18 holes outside the gallery ropes for some time now and one of their two sons in step with him inside the ropes as his caddie, Stewart Cink has been living the good life.
This traveling family affair has led to a rebirth in Cink’s game, and his revival continued Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links as he marched to a 4-shot victory in the RBC Heritage, his wife, Lisa, watching every shot and his son, Reagan, helping on every shot. Also on hand was son, Connor, who traveled overnight from Wyoming to be on hand for the final 18.
After rushing out to a 5-shot, 36-hole lead with a pair of 63s to set the halfway record low total for the tournament, Cink held his pursuers at bay on the weekend and polished off his eighth PGA Tour title with a closing 1-under-par 70 to finish at 19 under. It was his third win here, the first two coming in 2000 and 2004.
After a 69 in the third round – which set the 54-hole scoring mark of 195 – Cink, 47, was never seriously threatened. Only Harold Varner III, with a birdie at the last, and Emiliano Grillo, with a chip-in birdie on the 16th, got within three shots of Cink in the final round.
“What a week,” Cink said as he hugged Reagan on the 18th green. A few minutes later, he said he didn’t know if he had the words to express his joy.
“It just keeps getting better. It was just so great to have the whole family here. It means so much to me,” Cink said. “It was a blast this week. I just can’t explain it.”
“It’s an amazing blessing,” Lisa added. “What’s so amazing is this kind of rebirth that Stewart is experiencing and at such an older age. I’m just in awe of how well he’s playing at this time in his career, and it just seems like icing on the cake.”
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Varner shot 66 and Grillo a 68 to finish at 15 under and in a tie for second. It was Varner’s best finish on the PGA Tour.
“He’s old and he’s kicking everyone’s ass,” Varner said of Cink. “It inspires me. It inspires me to know that I can play golf for a long time. He’s been playing well all year, though, so it’s not like I’m surprised, but this week he’s played unbelievable.”
Maverick McNealy (67), Matt Fitzpatrick (68) and Corey Conners (68) finished at 13 under. It was Conners’ fourth top 10 in his last six starts.
Reigning PGA champion Collin Morikawa – who was born the same year Cink won his first PGA Tour title in 1997 – struggled in the final group paired with Cink. After a first-hole birdie, Morikawa made three bogeys to fall back and shot 72 to finish in a tie for seventh with Chris Kirk (67) at 12 under.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson finished his uneven week with his best round, a 66, to finish at 10 under and in a tie for 13th. He once again struggled with his putting and used a different putter in the final round.
“I feel like I haven’t putted really well for the last few weeks,” said Johnson, who has now gone six tournaments without a top 10. He said he’ll play next in two weeks in the Valspar Championship. “I kept with it, kept practicing, kept grinding, but it wasn’t really getting any better, so sometimes it’s just time for a change.”
Cink rarely struggled as he joined Bryson DeChambeau as the only players with two wins this season. Cink had Reagan on the bag when he won the season-opening Safeway Open – his first victory since capturing the Claret Jug in the 2009 Open at Turnberry. The two started working when Cink was outside the top 300 in the official world rankings; he’ll move into the mid-40s with the win.
And in his 610th start on the PGA Tour this week, Cink joined Julius Boros, Sam Snead and Kenny Perry (twice) as the only players since 1960 to win multiple Tour events in a season at age 47 or older.
Cink hit his first shot of the tournament into a water hazard, leading to one of only three bogeys in his 72 holes of work.
“I expected a dog fight and it didn’t turn out to be a big dog fight, but we were built for a dog fight,” Cink said. “I played really solid, and it wasn’t spectacular yesterday or today, but today I was in play all day long. I did the job that I needed to do today to come away with a little bit of a cushion on the last few holes, which is such a pleasure to experience.
“It doesn’t happen to many people that many times in their career, but to walk down that fairway with a big lead and see that ball come up on dry land here on the 18th fringe with Reagan on the bag, and I knew Connor and Lisa were out there, it’s almost beyond words.”
But he could praise his caddie for days, especially about the plan the two – with help from Lisa now and again – take to the golf course each round.
“It really started back in the fall when we had that win. We have not wavered from that plan except for about three or four tournaments where I missed the cut and I decided to double down on it, and it’s resulted in good finishes the last couple tournaments I’ve played in,” Cink said. “It worked at Safeway, it worked here this week. I look forward to the rest of the year with him caddying. I might just retire when he stops caddying. How can I top this?”