HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Stewart Cink kept his smooth ride humming Friday and cruised out to a five-shot lead through 36 holes in the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links.
Make that a historical smooth ride.
With a second consecutive 8-under-par 63 on a cool, overcast day, Cink sits atop the leaderboard at 16-under 126 – three shots better than the previous record total for the tournament’s opening 36 holes held by Jack Nicklaus (1975) and Phil Mickelson (2002).
The 16-under total in his first two rounds is a career best – he shot 14 under the first two rounds in 2001 at Doral. This also marks Cink’s first 36-hole lead in more than 4,600 days (he led after two rounds at the 2008 Travelers).
“Every day I wake up, I remind myself that I’m like a PGA Tour player at age 47,” said Cink, a seven-time PGA Tour winner who called his first round a “smooth ride” and didn’t change his mind after the second round. “I probably didn’t expect to be here still when I was 47, so it’s a good reminder for me because it keeps me calm and it gives me sort of a sense of reality and a dose of like hey, there’s not really all that much expectations of me that I can just come out here and have fun.”
Cink is five shots clear of Corey Conners, who put himself on the first page of the leaderboard once again with a 64 to sit at 11-under 131.
Emiliano Grillo also posted 64 in the second round and is in third at 10 under.
In a tie for fourth at 9 under are overnight leader Cameron Smith, who followed his 62 with a 71; reigning PGA champion Collin Morikawa (65-68); Sungjae Im (68-65), who is Cink’s neighbor in Georgia; and Billy Horschel (66-67).
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is at 5 under after rounds of 70-67.
It’s hard to believe that Cink, who won this event in 2000 and 2004, hit his first tee shot on Thursday into a water hazard. Since then, he’s made 13 birdies and two eagles without a bogey on the two cards. With his son, Reagan, on the bag – the two teamed to win the 2020 Safeway Classic – Cink said, in simple terms, he’s done everything well.
“There hasn’t been a day of crazy makes and hole-outs. It’s just been really solid planning and discipline, combined with good execution,” said Cink, who won the 2009 British Open at Turnberry. “I’ve had a lot of really good looks at birdies, and I’ve felt very comfortable on the greens, and having Reagan out there is just another level of that comfort that doesn’t always exist when you’re up near the lead on the PGA Tour.
“I love playing golf. I don’t really want to stop doing this as a job, and the guys that come out here year after year get better and better, younger and younger, and they don’t make it any easier, so I have to continue getting more out of myself and managing myself different ways, and Reagan has been a huge help as far as that goes. There’s a lot of work still to come, and I’ve seen leads like this go away quickly and I’ve seen leads like this expand really quickly.
“I don’t see any reason to change what I’m doing.”
Conners is of the same mind. He has finished third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, seventh in The Players Championship, tied for 14th in the Valero Texas Open and tied for eighth in last week’s Masters in the last six weeks.
He said he’s as confident about his game as he ever has been.
“Feel like I’m hitting my lines really well off the tee with irons and on the greens, so, yeah, I would say this is as well as I’ve felt about everything for sure,” Conners said. “A lot of positives. Giving myself lots of chances and was really nice to see some go in. Hopefully can keep that up going into the weekend.
“I’ve been playing really well and just trust my game and play with the confidence that I have, and good things are going to happen.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/04/16/pga-tour-stewart-cink-lead-rbc-heritage-harbour-town/