Stewart Cink hadn’t won on the PGA Tour for nearly 12 years before he captured the season-opening Safeway Open in September.
He hadn’t won the RBC Heritage in 17 years before he added to his wins in 2000 and 2004 by donning the red tartan jacket in April.
Well, he hasn’t won the Travelers Championship since 2008, when he won the tournament for a second time; his first PGA Tour win came in the 1997 event.
Could he end another double-digit span between wins this year at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut?
Wouldn’t be out of the question considering his resurgent season in which he’s one of four players, the others being Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay and Jason Kokrak, to win multiple times.
And it won’t have anything to do with some weird time travel machine. No, his renaissance at age 48 that has taken him from 151st in the world ranking to 45th can be attributed to slightly better health, gaining distance and having his youngest son, Reagan, on the bag, and his wife, Lisa, walking every step of his journey back to the winner’s circle for the seventh and eighth time.
Add in the setting.
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“People ask me, ‘What are your favorite places to go on the Tour? I always say Hartford and Harbour Town (home to the RBC Heritage). They say, of course, you have multiple wins at those places,” Cink said Tuesday. “But that’s not really the reason. I think the reason I have multiple wins at those events is I enjoy being in those places so much.
“It feels like a homey place to me right around this area and there is such great fans and support here. I’ve gotten to know the people from Travelers, and so I would love to have another win here. It would be awesome. Of course, any win on the PGA Tour means so much these days. But to repeat yourself and win at venues where you’ve won before is even more special because you get to relive some of those old memories with relationships you’ve been building.”
One of his favorite places in the Hartford area is TPC River Highlands.
“It’s a course that has a lot of variety. You don’t have to be super long, but length definitely helps on some holes. You don’t have to be super accurate because the fairways are pretty generous. Then again, there is also water and some pretty thick rough. The course in not know for rough, but there is thick rough out there,” Cink said. “So, it helps to be long, to be straight, and to be smart. If you play good, quality golf here, any style of play can be successful. Reminds me a lot of Harbour Town actually. The courses themselves are not alike at all, but the way they don’t really favor any specific style of play I think is one similarity between here and Harbour Town, and may be the reason I’ve got multiple wins at both of those.”
Cink has been hit and miss this year. After winning the Safeway Open, he had just one top-10 in 13 starts. After winning the RBC Heritage, his best finish in four starts is a tie for 30th in the PGA Championship. He’s coming off a tie for 57th in last week’s U.S. Open across the country at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
But Cink is having a blast traveling the country with his family. He was a bit sluggish on Tuesday as he recovered from the U.S. Open and continued to acclimate to the three-hour time difference.
But come Thursday’s first round, Cink is confident he’ll be refreshed, can call on good memories at TPC River Highlands and will get a charge out of seeing his caddy.
“Two wins with him this season has just been, to say it’s like the cherry on the top doesn’t do it justice,” Cink said. “Having him caddie has been like operationally excellent because he’s very good and could caddie for anybody in the world right now, but just the relationship we have, it’s allowed me to be totally myself on the golf course.
“Having Reagan is like a mini me out there. We make decisions almost the same way. When we don’t agree, we always can find a place of common ground. I’ve had a great year really for a 48-year-old, and Reagan has been a big part of that.”