Austin Cook shoots 67, wins RSM Classic by four, his first PGA Tour victory
After making just one bogey over his first 54 holes, Austin Cook made his second of the week at the par-4 second hole on Sunday at the RSM Classic in St. Simons Island, Ga. Just like that, his three-shot lead had shrunk to one, and suddenly the pressure was on for the PGA Tour rookie with just 13 career starts.
Instead of letting one slip away, Cook showed experience beyond his years, posting a final-round three-under 67 without dropping another shot on his final 16 holes. His 21-under 261 total at Sea Island Golf Club was good enough for a four-shot victory, the first of his career on the PGA Tour.
The former University of Arkansas All-American made just one birdie on his first 14 holes, opening the door for those within striking distance. But Cook slammed it shut on the last four holes, making birdie at the 15th, 17th and 18th to finish in style. His 23 birdies this week were more than anyone else in the field.
Cook, 26, had very little experience on the PGA Tour entering the week, but made the most of his limited chances. In 2015, he played in seven events, three of which he Monday qualified for, and finished inside the top 25 five times, including a T-6 at the Barbasol Championship. Sunday's win comes in the fourth start of his first full season as a member of the tour, and earns him exemptions into the Masters, the Players Championship and the PGA Championship, among others.
Finishing four back at 17-under 265 was J.J. Spaun, who carded a four-under 66. Spaun had closed the gap thanks to a four under start on his opening 10 holes, but ran into some troubles on the home nine, dropping shots at the 11th and 17th holes. The solo second finish is his best on the PGA Tour, coming in just his 36th career start.
Through 14 holes, Brian Gay was even par for the round and 14-under for the tournament, a total that would have put him in five-way tie for third. But Gay jumped up the leader board with two eagles on his final four holes, including a 161-yard hole out from the fairway at the par-4 18th to post a two-under 68. He finished in solo third at 16-under 266, giving him his best result since last season's Barbasol Championship, where he tied for third.
Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner, Andrew Landry and Chris Kirk tied for fourth at 14-under 268.