Familiar with the old adage that age is just a number?
Here’s PGA Tour proof of that:
Exhibit A: 47-year-old Stewart Cink, who eight days ago won the RBC Heritage for his second victory of the season – both of them coming more than 11 years after his most recent title.
Exhibit B: Almost 48-year-old Lee Westwood (his birthday is Friday), who came within one swing of potentially winning both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship in consecutive weeks last month.
At their respective ages, Cink and Westwood could be counting the days until they turn 50 and can graduate to playing 54-hole, no-cut events on PGA Tour Champions where the pay is good and much of the pressure is off.
Instead, their careers are cruising along, buoyed by good health, good attitudes and good family dynamics.
Cink has won twice since his 24-year old son, Reagan, began caddying for him last fall, the duo picking up a victory in the Safeway Open in their first start together.
Westwood, meanwhile, captured the European Tour’s Race to Dubai late last year and rolled on from there with his fiancée, Helen Storey, caddying for him until she stepped aside recently to allow Westwood’s son, Sam, to work the Masters and the RBC Heritage.
It sounds like a Hallmark movie.
If you caught a glimpse of Stewart and Reagan Cink at Harbour Town last week, you saw more than a player-caddie relationship (though they are dreadfully slow working through their pre-shot evaluations). They were having fun, which is easier to do when you open a tournament shooting 63-63. But Cink, a man of deep faith, says it goes deeper than that.
“I don’t seek peace and joy out of golf because I know I can never depend on it to sustain that kind of peace and joy that I’m looking for and it’s too low of a target,” Cink said after his eighth PGA Tour win.
“The peace and joy I feel on the golf course is something that stems from something far different than golf, and golf happens to benefit from it, but golf is not the end goal for me. I love playing and winning and having a week like this is just amazing, but the peace and joy that we experience – and it’s available to everybody – is something that you don’t have to wait for the circumstances, the worm to turn, so to speak.
“It’s there, and that’s what we choose to go for.”
On Sunday at Harbour Town, Cink’s other son, Connor, joined his mother, Lisa, watching what felt like a parade given Cink’s five-stroke lead entering the final round. With his wife, both boys and their fiancées on site, Cink reveled in the moment.
He’s worked hard to stay fit, made some swing tweaks and committed to a path he’s comfortable with, and the results are such that he’s suddenly thrown himself into the Ryder Cup discussion. Having his son alongside has made a noticeable difference.
“(Reagan) and I have always just been on the same wavelength,” Cink said. “We’re kind of from the same DNA, and I mean literally like we are the same person. We think about jokes, we notice the same funny stuff, we just pick up on the same kind of little details about things in our immediate surroundings.
“It’s been a real good fit for him caddying, and I just can’t tell you how much fun it is to have my son caddying for me. I’m hoping that I get Connor out there on the bag, too, at some point before this whole family run ends, but it’s been amazing and just a true blessing having him.”
Westwood understands the feelings even if he says he and his son almost talk different languages considering their age difference.
On Monday of Heritage week, he posted a photo of himself and his son on the beach at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It was Sam’s 20th birthday.
With 44 worldwide wins and having been ranked No. 1 in the world for a time, Westwood already has achieved more than he ever imagined.
“Do you ever expect to be the best player in the world? Probably not,” Westwood said. “I’ve exceeded all expectations.”
What Westwood has now is a comfort level and a perspective that keeps him going, sharing it with those close to him. He has some race horses and Westwood has taken up skiing and loves getting away in the mountains for a few days.
“I love that, being able to put a helmet on, pull the goggles down and just the solitude of it and getting away from everything and then meeting everybody and doing the après-ski thing,” Westwood said.
Having his family close when he’s on the road, even when he comes up a stroke short to Bryson DeChambeau at Bay Hill and Justin Thomas at TPC Sawgrass, Westwood has found a level of tranquility as he approaches his 48th birthday.
“I’m just taking every week at a time and trying to enjoy myself as much as possible and play in tournaments that I want to play,” Westwood said.
“Rarely do I play anywhere that I don’t want to play anymore and just share experiences with Helen and Sam and the others. I can kind of go through life just trying to have a good time.”
There is no age limit on happiness.
Top: Stewart Cink celebrates with his wife, Lisa; caddie/son Reagan; and youngest son, Connor, on the 18th green after winning the RBC Heritage.