ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Sooner or later, Austin Cook may begin to realize how good he is. Perhaps that was the sentiment starting to settle in as Cook, 26, held a shiny silver trophy after closing strongly to capture his first PGA Tour title, winning the RSM Classic at Sea Island by four shots.
On a windy and blustery final day when he expected some trouble in controlling his nerves, the PGA Tour rookie never wavered, and he capped a sensational week with yet another stirring performance. He made birdies on three of his final four holes to shoot 3-under 67 and beat J.J. Spaun by four shots. Cook finished at 21-under 261, just one shot off of Kevin Kisner’s 2015 tournament record.
A Monday qualifying sensation two years ago, when he parlayed Monday success into a handful of PGA Tour starts, Cook, who stands 5-foot-7, won in only his 14th PGA Tour start, his fourth as a full-time member.
“The only professional event I’ve won was an Adams Tour Winter Series event,” said Cook, who made only two bogeys on the week. “I’ve been close on the Web a couple of times but haven’t been able to get the job done, and to be able to do it on the biggest stage in the world, it definitely boosts my confidence. It lets me know I can play with these guys.”
Of that, there is little doubt. Cook tied for fourth in fairways hit (48 of 58), was second in greens in regulation (60 of 72) and ranked 13th in putting. Of the 12 greens he missed, he saved par 11 times. It was simply one of those weeks when everything fell his way.
Cook’s caddie, veteran Kip Henley, who had been on the bag for five previous PGA Tour/PGA Tour Champions victories, thinks there are going to be lots more to come for Cook. He is that steady and cool.
“He’s impervious to pressure,” Henley said. “It’s only good if you like top 5s every week. … It’s crazy how good he is.”
Spaun, a second-year player who gave himself a chance by shooting a bogey-free 62 on Saturday, was the hot man for much of Sunday, too, getting to 4 under through 10 holes, closing the lead to one. Despite a 5-foot birdie miss at 15 and a bogey at the par-3 17th, Spaun would shoot 66 to finish off a solid fall, following up on T-10 and T-14 finishes in Las Vegas and Mexico.
Brian Gay, a four-time winner on Tour, struggled much of Sunday, but made eagles on two of his last four holes to shoot 68 and finish solo third. At the par-4 18th, Gay holed a 9-iron from 163 yards for 2. He then handed the show back to Cook, who’d earned every bit of it.