HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC – The Golf was exceptional for Stewart Cink. What made his third RBC Heritage title really special was that his family was there to see his age-old success.
Cink hugged son Reagan, his caddy, after finishing his four-shot win in Harbor Town with a stress-free par on the lighthouse-framed 18th hole. His wife Lisa, their other son Connor and Connor’s fiancée Jess Baker were in the gallery cheering Cink’s second win of the season.
“To make such a group wait at the end to celebrate,” said Cink, “it’s just an experience that you don’t have that often in your life.”
Perhaps with Stewart’s resurgence on the PGA Tour, the Cink family has even more joyful moments ahead of them.
He shot a steady, stress-free 70 to end a dominant, record breaking week at the age of 47 with many players looking to the PGA Tour Champions.
30-year-old Varner found a lot of encouragement in the man who hit him.
“He’s old and kicks everyone (bum),” said Varner. “Yes, it inspires me. It inspires me to know that I can play golf for a long time.”
The Cinks had their arms around each other to celebrate.
“I don’t even know if I have the words,” said Stewart Cink.
He won for the second time this season – just him and Bryson DeChambeau did that. At the first tournament of the season, the Safeway Open in September, he broke an 11-year drought with no win.
This seemed to come out of nowhere. But Cink backed it up with four more top 20 finishes, including a tie for 12th place at the Masters last week.
He won $ 1.278 million, almost the same as the $ 1.404 million for his two previous Harbor Town wins combined.
The second win comes with a huge advantage – Cink received an exemption for the US Open at Torrey Pines in June. It is the first US Open since 2017 for the former British Open champion.
Cink stood out for the ages by shooting 16-126 in the first two rounds – rocking the lowest 36-hole score in Harbor Town of 13-129 shared by Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson. Cink added a 69 on Saturday to hit 18 under, 2 better than Justin Leonard54 hole score in 2002.
Cink led to the finals with 5 shots and dared all pursuers to get him. Nobody ran towards Cink, who was leading with at least 3 shots continuously.
PGA championship winner Collin Morikawa, paired with cink, opened with a birdie. But Morikawa took bogies on the second and fourth holes out of the mix.
Maverick McNealy had five birdies on the front nine to climb to 14 under, 4 behind Cink in the middle of the round. Successive bogies on the 11th and 12th ended McNealy’s climb.
Grillo and Varner came closest at 15 under and were only 3 back to Cink’s final birdie on par-3 17th, which made far from certain that he would be the jackets he’d won in 2000 and 2004 would add another plaid winner jacket.
Cink made 17 birdies and two eagles in the first three rounds. He only had two birdies on Sunday, but that was more than enough to take his eighth career win.
Cink expected a dogfight. Instead, he said he fought on the track rather than in the field for most of the day. After his strong game at Augusta National, he was full of confidence.
“I really felt like I had things like this that would be very hard to beat,” he said.
It was absolutely impossible to chase him after his scorching start on Thursday and Friday.
“What is so amazing is the kind of rebirth that Stewart is experiencing at such an old age,” said Lisa Cink. “I’m just in awe of how well he’s playing at this point in his career.”
Best placed Dustin Johnson closed on his best round of the tournament at 66 to finish under 13th place with 10. Johnson was the November Masters champion but missed the cut there last week and never competed in Harbor Town.
“I just feel like I’ve made way too many mistakes,” he said. “You make mistakes here, they punish you pretty big.”