Stewart Cink woke up Saturday with a five-stroke lead at the RBC Heritage and maintained that margin with a 2-under 69 in the third round at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
At 18 under, Cink leads Collin Morikawa by five. Emiliano Grillo is in third at 12 under.
Cink set the tournament’s 54-hole scoring record previously held by Justin Leonard (16 under in 2002).
The 47-year-old is not only looking to earn his third career victory at Harbour Town, following wins in 2000 and 2004, but also to become just the second player on tour to win multiple events this season. He won the season-opening Safeway Open last September.
“I’m halfway to home compared to where I was yesterday,” Cink told reporters. “It would be — I think tomorrow I could play another round like this, and our game plan still held and it was good and there was no surprises out there really for the most part.”
Cink opened the tournament with a pair of 63s, so by comparison Saturday’s round was more pedestrian. He bounced back from a bogey on the third hole to make birdie on the par-3 fourth and the par-5 fifth. But Cink managed just one more birdie the rest of the day.
“It was not the hottest day with the putter, but under the circumstances it’s not easy to remain totally freed up, so that’s kind of what I was doing out there today,” Cink said. “I was a little bit tied up in the results and it’s something I can recognize and hopefully get better at (Sunday). But it’s natural; it happens to everybody.”
Morikawa, the 24-year-old who won the 2020 PGA Championship and ranks fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, will be in hot pursuit of Cink. After playing the front nine even par, Morikawa pulled out birdies on holes 13, 14, 15 and 17 for a 4-under 67.
“I mean, it shows that there’s 62s, there’s 63s out on this golf course; I just have to go out there and find it,” Morikawa said. “Each day I’ve shown little specks of good golf, I’ve just got to put it all together for (Sunday’s) final round if I want a chance.”
Grillo, from Argentina, acknowledged Cink’s commanding lead by saying his third-round 69 kept him in the mix for second place.
“I’ve just got to go and play my game,” Grillo said. “Just got to shoot the lowest number I can. Like I said, just wait for Stewart not to play so well. I hope for the best for him, but I also want to win.”
At 11 under and tied for fourth are Matt Wallace and Sungjae Im. Wallace shot a bogey-free 65 to charge up the leaderboard.
Tied for sixth at 10 under are Matt Fitzpatrick, Harold Varner III, Corey Conners and defending champion Webb Simpson. Simpson carded a bogey-free 64 early in the day to make his move.
One of seven players tied at 9 under, Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa, strung together five straight birdies from holes 2 through 6 on his way to a 65.
–Field Level Media
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