Stewart Cink and son Reagan enjoying the moment. – photo Patrick Smith Getty
47-year old Stewart Cink provided one of the truly feel-good moments to date on the 2021 PGA Tour when winning the RBC Heritage Classic on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.
Cink led the event from the end of round two after his opening round of 63 on Thursday left him one behind Australia’s Cameron Smith. He would then add rounds of 63, 69 and 70 to finish at 19 under par and four ahead of Argentinean Emiliano Grillo and Harold Varner 111.
What made the week so special was that Cink had his 26-year old son Reagan on the bag as he had last September when winning the Safeway Open.
This week’s win was Cink’s third in this particular event having won in 2000 and 2004 and his 8th PGA Tour title, one of those coming at the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry when defeating the then 59-year old Tom Watson in a playoff for the event.
Cink described the benefit of leading at Harbour Town Links.
“I think you put your nose way out in front here, and it’s hard for the afternoon players to really get a lot of good momentum because the course has just got a lot of resistance to scoring late in the day.
“I can’t really explain why here it is that way so much, but it seems like it is. There’s low scores early but then in the afternoon — I knew if I played solid today that it would be really hard to get a lot closer.
“And I did, 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.”
Eighteen months ago, Cink played the Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast and when asked his memory of the 2009 win at Turnberry when he could have been accused of shooting Bambi, given Watson was chasing his 6th Open Championship title at the age of 59, he responded;
“As it relates to Tom there is no particular moment that I have that’s a memory other than throughout the whole thing he was just perfectly gracious, just like you would expect any, you know, highly regarded champion to be. He couldn’t have been any nicer, and he was just as respectful of me as the winner as I would have been of him as the winner.”
Today, Cink’s playing partner Collin Morikawa summed up the winner and his relationship between Cink and his son which of course he observed at close quarters.
“Yeah, it’s awesome to see,” said the current PGA Champion. “To see how much he loves the game still and to see him and his son Reagan just enjoy it together, that’s what’s really cool. They’ve got these own little sayings that they say together that they just — they’ve got it going, and they have a really good vibe to it, so it’s really cool to see them put it through.”
It is a somewhat a resurgent Stewart Cink we are witnessing at present, his win last September his first in nearly 12 years and today hedescribed just how a more thorough on course strategy process was working.
“Well, it really started back in the fall when we had that win. I just don’t think anybody else picked up on it. We had already established that plan. 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.
“We were doing it when Reagan started caddying. That’s actually one of the things that I implemented as a system of my own, and I knew Reagan would come along because he’s seen me play golf his whole life and he believes in what I do, and he was none the happier than to come in and help implement that system.
“And 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?”
Cameron Smith recovered from a disappointing 2nd and 3rd rounds to record a final round of 65 to finish in a share of 9th while Cameron Davis had a solid week when 25th.