By Michael Johnson
By Sam Greenwood
It is often said playing with the lead is one of the toughest things in golf. Stewart Cink did a pretty good job of destroying that mind-set at the RBC Heritage, starting 63-63 to take a five-shot lead into the weekend and then playing steady, almost error-free golf (just two bogeys) over the final 36 holes to win by four shots over Harold Varner III and Emiliano Grillo for his eighth PGA Tour win and second of the 2020-21 season.
Cink showed almost no weakness in his game at Harbour Town Golf Links with his worst ranking in the major strokes-gained categories being 25th (strokes gained/putting) while ranking second in strokes gained/approach-the-green and fifth in strokes gained/around-the-green. For the week he was tied for first in greens in regulation and when he did miss a green, his short game showed up, witnessed by a perfect five-for-five in sand saves and ranking T-4 in scrambling. Such sharp play into and around the greens resulted in just three bogeys the entire week for Cink.
The 2009 Open Championship winner’s irons are Ping’s i210 models with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts and Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet grips. The irons offer more forgiveness than typical in most players irons, but Cink is just fine with that.
“I’m looking for my mis-hits to be handled and the i210s do a terrific job of that,” Cink told Golf Digest last fall. “If my dad who is a 15-handicap can play them and I can play them on the PGA Tour then that’s a great set of clubs. I played forged blades for a long time but the predictability of a club with more perimeter-weighted mass is priceless.”
Cink also has another equipment trait the everyman can relate to: His gap wedge is the same model as his irons—a rarity on the PGA Tour. “It’s a full swing club,” he explains. “It’s a transition club. It’s the shortest and highest-lofted club that gets more shots from the fairway than short-game shots. The gap wedge is doing today what my pitching wedge used to do 15 years ago.”
Cink made good use of his Ping Vault 2.0 Ketsch mallet, too. “I was playing a Korn Ferry event in 2019 and a friend was caddieing for me,” Cink said. “He knew more about equipment than me. I had not used the Vault putter before but the line on my ball and the line on the putter matched up nicely. It made it easy to get the clubhead lined up. I putted fairly well that week and have stuck with it.”
Given the results at Harbour Town, expect him to stick with it a while longer.
The clubs Stewart Cink used to win the 2021 RBC Heritage Classic
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Ping G425 Max (Graphite Design Tour XC-6 TX), 10.5 degrees
3-wood: Ping G425 Max, 14.5 degrees
7-wood: Ping G410, 20.5 degrees
Irons (4-UW): Ping i210
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8 (56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Ping Vault 2.0 Ketsch