It’s not 2009, but Stewart Cink made it look that way at the Safeway Open on Saturday. Now, he’s got a chance for his first win in a long, long time.
Stewart Cink has not really competed for a PGA Tour title for quite some time. But this week at the Safeway Open in California, Cink finds himself right in the mix to win on the tour for the first time in more than a decade.
The 47-year-old Cink is turning back the clock this week, especially with Saturday’s round. It has him in position to get in the win column for the first time since Barack Obama’s first term in the White House.
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Cink last won in one of the most unpopular victories in the history of major championships. In 2009, Cink rallied to win the Open Championship at Turnberry. That wasn’t the unpopular part. The fact that he beat 63-year-old Tom Watson in a four-hole aggregate playoff was the part that folks most remember.
However, Cink has not won since then. And, if we’re being honest, he hasn’t really been close. Since 2009, Cink has a grand total of 15 top 10 finishes in 237 starts covering 12 seasons. Out of those top 10s, only one was a top-three finish and that came in 2018 when he tied for second place at the Travelers Championship.
This week didn’t start off as anything particularly special for Cink. He shot a 5-under par 67 in round one, followed by a 2-under par round of 70 and he was tied for 26th place entering the weekend.
But the six-time winner on tour got hot early in Saturday’s round and he carried that momentum for a while. The result was a climb up the leaderboard.
Cink started his day with a birdie on the par-4 first hole, followed by a birdie on the par-3 second hole. Quickly, the veteran was 2-under on his round.
The Georgia Tech grad would par the third and fourth holes to remain at the 2-under mark. And that’s when his round went from good to great.
Cink started a run of birdies with a four on the par-5 fifth hole. He followed that with a birdie on six, another on seven and another on the eighth hole. Quickly, Cink went from 2-under par to 6-under par. He would par the ninth hole to shoot a 30 on the front nine.
His back nine was not anywhere near as spectacular as his front nine. However, Cink did record a birdie on the 12th hole to go with eight pars. Altogether, it added up to a 65 for Cink, and he vaulted from 26th to second when he completed his round at 14-under par.
Cink will be by far the most experienced player in the final groups in tomorrow’s final round. He may need something special, like what he did on Saturday, to win for the first time in 11 years.