Heading into the weekend at the Safeway Open, the tournament seemed primed for a young breakthrough winner. Stewart Cink, 47, had other ideas.
Much like a dad at a college frat party, Cink barged through the front door at Silverado Resort in Napa, California, without telling anyone who he knew and made himself at home. His lights-out, 65-65 weekend earned him a stunning, two-shot victory, his first since the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry. He may be three years away from the geezers tour, but he proved some geezers can still get it done on the big tour.
Here are our takeaways from Sunday at the Safeway Open.
Stewart Cink’s still got it
Just an insane sentence to type. Then again, it’s 2020, so it’s very on-brand.
But seriously, where did this come from? In his past two seasons on the PGA Tour (30 total starts), Cink had one top 10… one. He did sprinkle in a few surprisingly good results elsewhere (T-20 at 2019 Open Championship; T-9 at the 2019 Houston Open), but for the most part it was a whole lot of T-45s and missed cuts. Like many of us, Cink wondered if his time had passed.
“When you get to 47 like I am, you just don’t really know if you’re ever going to be able to close the door on another one,” said Cink, whose most recent top-five finish, a T-2, came at the 2018 Travelers Championship. “At times I’ve been in position to get it done and haven’t, but this was just a really special week where I had a lot of good things going with my golf.”
The golf was very good from Cink, who backed up a Saturday 65 with another 65 on Sunday to slam the door. A gutsy, 20-foot right-to-left birdie conversion from off the green at the 15th kickstarted an epic finish that included two more birdies at 16 and 18, which proved to be the winning strokes.
It also helped that his son Reagan, 23, was on the bag this week (more on that in a second). Cink’s wife, Lisa, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, causing Stewart to take a leave of absence from the tour at the time, was also on site, and the two shared a nice moment after Cink made par on the 14th. The vibes all aligned nicely for him, and he was able to turn back the clock and win for the seventh time on the PGA Tour. It seems silly to say this one was as special as his Turnberry win over 59-year-old Tom Watson, but with Reagan and Lisa by his side during his post-round interview, Cink put the two wins in the same conversation.
“I didn’t know if there’d be a more special moment than that, but there might be a new one now.”
Is Reagan Cink the next great caddie?
If you can’t tell, we’re kind of joking. We’re not in the business of predicting who the next all-time great caddie is going to be, nor is anyone in the golf media. If anything, Cink’s win is further proof that these guys can win with just about anybody lugging their bag around.
But man, that was a pretty great performance from Reagan Cink! The 23-year-old was a perfectly calming presence for his dad all week, and how about this word of advice he gave to pops on Sunday?
“Reagan said walking out on No.2 today, he said ‘Dad, your tangibles are really, really good right now. The set of clubs, the ball, the tangibles are good. You just take care of the intangibles today,’” Cink said. “That’s like, great advice for a kid who is 23 years old and only caddieing in his fourth PGA Tour event.”
Sage wisdom from the kid. More importantly, it sounds like he and his dad had a blast, which is all that matters, win or lose.
“Reagan’s a great kid to be around, he knows his way around like he’s a PGA Tour pro himself. He did a great job of keeping me positive and keeping me loose out there. We just had a really great time all week.
“I can’t overstate how important he was out there. He understands golf at the highest level.”
High praise. Maybe having the right caddie does matter more than we think.
That was a highly entertaining solo second from Harry Higgs
We won’t go too long on Higgs, mainly for fear of hard-core Golf Twitter saying that he’s their property. But everyone – avid golf fans, casual golf fans, “I-just-watch-the-Masters” golf fans – should be allowed to enjoy this guy. The full lip of tobacco, the unbuttoned shirt, the heavy groans after bad shots, the incredible hook into 16 that led to an eagle, the hard F-bomb after the missed birdie putt on 17, etc, etc. The dude is an incredible presence out there. We need more Harry Higgs.
We are scary close to a Doc Redman victory
Thanks to a closing 62, Doc Redman locked up a T-3 finish. That’s his second T-3 in his past three starts, and the third finish inside the top three in his young career. The former US Amateur winner is going to become a PGA Tour winner very soon. He’s an elite iron player, a solid driver of the golf ball and an above-average putter. One of these weeks it’s going to all come together and we’ll have another early 20s star to be excited about, as if we didn’t have enough already.