HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA
| Can a man ever have too many plaid jackets?
Not in Stewart Cink’s closet.
The 47-year old won his third RBC Heritage – and his third tartan jacket – with an impeccable performance at Harbour Town Golf Links, continuing a career renaissance that includes a victory in the Safeway Open in September to start the 2020-21 season.
“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,” Cink said.
“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 (son) Reagan on the bag, and I knew Connor and Lisa were out there, it’s almost beyond words.”
He’s in a different place in his life and his career than when he won here in 2000 and 2004. It was no more evident than having his 24-year-old son Reagan as his caddie, helping his father plot his way to his eighth PGA Tour win.
How special is what Cink is doing?
He joined Julius Boros, Sam Snead and Kenny Perry as the only players in PGA Tour history to have multiple-win seasons at age 47 or older. Cink also moved within two plaid jackets of Davis Love III, who has won the Heritage a record five times.
“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.”
By shooting 63-63 to open the tournament, Cink staked himself to a five-stroke lead midway through the event and the margin didn’t waver much, allowing him to spend the final round playing carefully, finishing four strokes ahead of Harold Varner III and Emiliano Grillo.
With the rest of his family watching from outside the ropes, Cink and his son wrote another chapter to their father-son story that began last fall when Cink won in the Napa Valley. The original idea was for the two to spend more time together before Reagan went to work full-time.
Now he has a different job.
“He has the same amount or more (influence) than any other caddie I’ve ever had,” Cink said. “He’s not just my son caddying, he’s a professional caddie doing an excellent job. He could caddie for any player in the world right now.
“He understands the game plan. He understands golf at a really high level. He’s a good golfer, but he thinks about golf way higher than his about-scratch handicap would indicate.”
Each evening last week, the Cinks would plot a game plan and Reagan kept his father focused on that. When Cink started the Heritage by pulling his opening tee shot into a water hazard, it was a jarring reminder that he can sometimes get lackadaisical.
“He listens to me most of the time,” Reagan said of his dad. “It’s a blast out there. We operate on the same wavelength pretty much all the time, so we get to joke around and have a great time in between shots, even when the stakes are pretty high and he’s playing really well. And then it’s efficient planning when we get to the shots, so it really works on a lot of levels.”
For Lisa Cink, a cancer survivor, she didn’t see it coming.
“What’s so amazing is this kind of rebirth that Stewart is experiencing and at such an older age,” she said. “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.”
It impressed 30-year old Varner, who had his best career finish.
“He’s old and he’s kicking everyone’s ass,” Varner said. “Yeah, 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.”
This week, Stewart and Lisa Cink will move into a new home in Atlanta, leaving their suburban house for a downtown condominium.
The process begins Monday – with another jacket to take with him.
Ron Green Jr.