HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Stewart Cink has lengthy treasured his journeys to this little spot on the earth that hugs the Atlantic Ocean, an island paradise that includes a legendary lighthouse, charming ambiance, peaceable streets lined with an assortment of timber and miles of inviting seashores and bike trails.
All of which surrounds the gem named Harbour Town Golf Links, a difficult Pete Dye format that checks every person golfers with out brutalizing them. The first time Cink toured Harbour Town, he gained the 2000 MCI Classic, now generally known as the RBC Heritage. Added one other win in 2004 and hasn’t missed an opportunity to tee it up right here for 22 consecutive years.
“I feel so relaxed here,” Cink mentioned. “I think it’s the vibe. Is it the week after the Masters vibe or is it the Hilton Head Island vibe? Maybe a little bit both. Coming after the grindhouse that Augusta National can be – especially this year, conditions were pretty tough – it’s nice to come here and relax a little bit, exhale.”
Well, he relaxed a bit an excessive amount of forward of his opening tee shot Thursday within the first spherical of the RBC Heritage, sending his golf ball deep into a lake guarding the tenth gap and making bogey. From there, nonetheless, Cink didn’t have one other blemish on his card full of seven birdies and an eagle and grabbed the first-round lead with an 8-under-par 63 — his profession low at Harbour Town.
“It really was a very smooth round once I got past the obstacle of the first hole. It was probably one of the worst opening drives I ever hit in my life,” he mentioned. “You’d think that’s a bad way to start, but in a way it’s a wake-up call. After playing in the Masters and being super focused and intense, to come here and be lazy on the first shot was kind of like a slap in the face and it got my attention.
“I was just so relaxed and lackadaisical on the shot that I just kind of didn’t really go through my normal preparation on the shot. Just completely went to sleep at the wheel. Then I really played very, very well the rest of the way.”
Quite a couple of gamers performed properly underneath overcast skies. Matt Wallace, who completed third within the Valero Texas Open two weeks in the past and tied for 34th in final week’s Masters, shot a bogey-free 65 to face in second among the many early finishers.
Billy Horschel, Charles Howell III and Harold Varner III had been at 66.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson completed with a 70.
“This week’s so much more relaxed than last,” Horschel mentioned. “You’re just so excited to get to Augusta, can’t wait to play, and by maybe the middle of the week or after the first round, gosh, this place just drives me insane. It’s just one of those weeks where it drives you a little insane with the way the wind can be; the way they set it up. It just requires a lot from you as a golfer.
“So, it’s always nice to come over here after a stressful challenging week like it would be at any major.”
Hilton Head’s informal environment even made an indignant golfer smile. Wallace was one of a number of European Tour stars to participate in a hilarious video launched earlier this 12 months the place they gathered collectively to attend an anger administration remedy group to debate their points (Wallace has had issues with caddies).
Wallace had few points within the first spherical and loves Hilton Head.
“I do like it here,” mentioned Wallace, who added that the indignant golfer video was sensible, and the outtakes are even higher. “My girlfriend has been coming here with her family for a really long time and it’s a special place. Really nice and chilled and we enjoy it.
“Tournament golf is not decompression (golf) for me. I am fully focused out there. But I like the vibe, the chilled vibe, and I like the trees. I mean, it’s pretty cool that you’ve got all the roads in between the trees and the shrubs, the dense growth.
“The golf course itself is nice as well. I like playing here. I’ve got a good handle of what I want to do on the golf course, and it showed today.”