Cink emerged from a highly congested leaderboard, matching his third round of 65 and holding off Harry Higgs in a riveting finish to the opening tournament of the 2020/21 PGATOUR season.
The 47-year-old ended a clean sweep of birdies on the par-fives in the final hole after his only blemish of the day on the 17th, posting a winning score of 21 under and earning his first silverware since he denied Tom Watson the landmark sixth Claret Jug in Turnberry more than 11 years ago.
Cink was two strokes behind overnight and one of 28 players within four shots of the lead, but he made serene progress through Sunday and cruised to the turn in 32 before pitching in for his third birdie in four holes at the 11th.
The five-time Ryder Cup player missed a decent chance at the next, but he picked up a tricky 20-footer for his sixth birdie at the 15th, adding another birdie at the next to open up a two-shot advantage over the chasing pack.
Cink’s composure buckled on the 17th green as he raced his 45-foot birdie putt six feet past the cup and missed the return, but two lusty blows found the back fringe on the par-five last and he putted to three feet and knocked in the winning stroke with Higgs piling on the pressure.
Higgs, who made the first albatross of the season with his last shot of the second round, looked to be too far back to challenge until he smashed a superb 237-yard second to five feet at the 16th and rammed in the putt for eagle to close within one of the leader.
But Higgs was unable to find the cup from within 10 feet on the 17th, and when he needed another eagle at the last to force extra holes, he pushed his drive too far to the right and into a fairway bunker, which left him no hope of getting to the tee in two.
A par-five was enough for Higgs to finish in outright second on 19 under, matching his previous best performance on the PGATOUR at the Bermuda Championship in November last year, while Doc Redman lit up the final day after he birdied each of the final six holes to return a 10-under 62, which earned him the clubhouse lead for a lengthy period.
Redman would end up in a share of third with Chez Reavie, who covered the back nine in just 29 strokes to card a 66, with Kevin Streelman picking up three shots over the last four holes to claim a podium finish.
Brian Stuard, who shared the overnight lead with James Hahn and Cameron Percy, also birdied the last to make it a four-way tie for third, while Russell Knox was unable to mount a serious challenge after a poor run of holes on the outward half.
The Scot made a good start with an early birdie at the short second, but he bogeyed three of the next four holes and went on to fire a 70 which left him five adrift of the champion.
WHATS IN THE BAG
Stewart Cink’s winning WITB: 2020 Safeway Open
- Driver: Ping G410 LST (10.5 degrees @11.5, Big +)
- Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD XC 6 TX (45.25″)
- 3-wood: Ping G410 (14.5 degrees @13.5)
- Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green 70 6.5
- 7-wood: Ping G410 (20.5 degrees @19.75)
- Shaft: Accra FX 2.0 360 M5
- Irons: Ping i210 (4-UW)
- Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (+1/2″)
- Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 Raw (56-08M, 60-04L)
- Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (+1/2″, D6 swing weight)
- Putter: Ping Vault 2.0 Ketsch
- Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
- Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
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