ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — A great start to the week got even better for Stewart Cink on Thursday.
Three days after his wife, Lisa, received a good report on her Stage 4 breast cancer, she was in the gallery at Sea Island as he posted a career-low 62 to finish one shot behind in the RSM Classic.
“Huge blessing,” Cink said.
It showed in his easy smile and the peaceful walk on a gorgeous day in the Golden Isles, a happy day in a year filled with unimaginable trials.
Cink, winless since his British Open victory at Turnberry in 2009, stepped away from the PGA Tour in May when his wife was diagnosed with cancer. After nine rounds of chemotherapy, doctors at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston switched her over to what Cink described as a maintenance program.
“I am just really encouraged by the way she’s been able to fight and handle it,” Cink said. “She’s had definitely a lot of ups and downs and she feels pretty well, and she got a good report Monday — real good. She’s really like an inspiration for me.”
Mackenzie Hughes, the Canadian rookie, flirted with a sub-60 round until pars on the final three holes on the Seaside course for a 61 and a one-shot lead over Cink and Jonathan Byrd. All of them were at Seaside in ideal conditions for scoring.
Cink was a strong presence, especially with his wife in the gallery.
She has only missed one tournament since a sporadic return to golf, usually walking 18 holes. The exception was the St. Jude Classic at Memphis this summer, when she only managed nine holes each round.
Cink, with six PGA Tour victories, five Ryder Cup teams and a claret jug from his British Open playoff victory over Tom Watson, was jolted when his wife was diagnosed in the spring. His primary concern was her health, and over time, he worked on his own state of mind.
CME GROUP TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — Shanshan Feng was right back on top of an LPGA Tour leaderboard, shooting a 6-under 66 to take a one-shot lead over So Yeon Ryu and Charley Hull after the first round of the CME Group Tour Championship.
Coming off consecutive victories in Malaysia and Japan, Feng is one of nine players who entered the season finale with a chance to win the Race to the CME Globe season title and $1 million bonus. The Chinese star won in 2013 at Tiburon Golf Club.
Ha Na Jang, Sei Young Kim, In Gee Chun, Amy Yang, Lizette Salas, Beatriz Recari, Ryann O’Toole and Mo Martin all shot 68.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko had a 70. She needs a win this week to secure player of the year honors, Ariya Jutanugarn and Brooke Henderson, who like Ko are guaranteed the points crown if they prevail this week, each shot 72.
Feng has finished no worse than a tie for fourth in her last seven events. She started the run with the Olympic bronze medal in Rio, tied for fourth at Evian in France, opened the Asia trip at home in China with a fourth-place tie, was second in Taiwan and tied for third in South Korea before winning in Malaysia and Japan. She took last week off, practicing only three days in Orlando.
DP WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Lee Westwood shot a 6-under 66 in swirling wind to take a one-stroke lead in the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour’s season finale.
Danny Willett and Alex Noren were best-placed of the four players bidding to win the Race to Dubai title after 71s on the Earth Course at Jumeirah. Henrik Stenson, the points leader, shot 72. Rory McIlroy opened with a 75, ending a run of 28 straight rounds of par or lower in the event.
Should Stenson win, he will be No. 1 for the second time in four years. He could even finish atop the standings with a top-eight finish, provided Willett doesn’t win or finish second and Noren doesn’t win.
Nicolas Colsaerts and Julien Quesne were second at 67, and Sergio Garcia, Joost Luiten and Francesco Molinari shot 68.
SYDNEY (AP) — U.S. amateur champion Curtis Luck and rookie professional Lucas Herbert each shot 5-under 67 to share the Australian Open lead, leading American star Jordan Spieth two strokes back.
Fifty-one-year-old Peter O’Malley was a shot back at Royal Sydney along with David Klein, Adam Burdett, Ryan Fox and Benjamin Clementson. Australian star Adam Scott opened with a 73.