If Stewart Cink makes the cut at The Open Championship this week, it would mark the first time Cink made the cut at all four majors in the same season since 2000.
Impressive, considering that at least one player in the field, Chinese amateur Yuxin Lin, was born in the year 2000.
More impressive was Cink’s first-round 66 at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, Kent, England, that put him in a five-way tie for fourth at 4 under after 18 holes of The Open, continuing something of a renaissance season for the 48-year-old.
“I hesitate to use the old adage about winning the tournament on Thursday, but it’s kind of true. You want to be in it,” Cink said. “You want to get a good feel for the course. Few surprises on the first round, and just do the best you can.
“I executed pretty well and I’ve got a good, solid executing plan for the rest of the week, and so I think that between Reagan (his son and caddie) and I we are doing a pretty good job.”
Cink described himself as “very confident” that he could win his second major title 12 years after winning the 2009 Open Championship.
“I feel like I’ve got a lot of experience and I like the way my game has been the last 10 or 12 months,” Cink said. “I’m having a great time, so I’m not too stressed out about the results. I’m hoping to get in the mix and give this thing a run like I did in 2009 and try to draw on some of those memories.
“Yeah, I definitely have the confidence to do that.”
Cink has reason to like where his game has been in the past year. He is one of a handful of players to notch multiple wins on the PGA Tour this year: the season-opening Safeway Open in September and the RBC Heritage in April. The week before the Heritage victory, he tied for 12th at the Masters, and he hasn’t missed a cut since March.
Entering the week, Cink ranked 21st on tour in strokes gained: approach, which matches up well with the second-shot golf course being played this week. Fittingly, Cink landed 14 greens in regulation en route to a round of four birdies and zero bogeys.
“Today I had a few shots that I wouldn’t consider to be super high quality approaches and some of them still found the green,” Cink said. “That’s mostly due to reasonable planning and just not shooting yourself in the foot.”
Cink is one of six players 40 or older to have won on tour this year, a list that also includes Spain’s Sergio Garcia, Brian Gay, Australia’s Matt Jones, Lucas Glover and, famously, Phil Mickelson. Perhaps Cink is drawing inspiration from the now 51-year-old Mickelson’s PGA Championship victory in May.
Either way, his first round Thursday ensured that golf’s year of the old guy would continue a bit longer.
–Field Level Media