Cook claims first TOUR victory at The RSM Classic
November 19, 2017
By Adam Schupak, special to PGATOUR.COM
Austin Cook wins The RSM Classic for first TOUR win
SAINT SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Andrew Landry called it last week.
The Arkansas Razorback grad told caddie Kip Henley that his former teammate Austin Cook doesn't know how good he is.
"But he's about to find out," Landry said. "I feel a win coming pretty soon."
Landry's words proved prescient. The rest of the field at The RSM Classic found out just how good Cook can play as he fired a final-round 3-under 67 to win The RSM Classic by four strokes over J.J. Spaun. It's the first PGA TOUR victory for Cook, 26, in just his 14th start.
"I knew I had a good bag, but I didn't know he was going to be this good this soon," said Henley, who started caddieing for Cook during the Web.com Tour Finals. "I've got a 5-foot, 7-inch Matt Kuchar. He's going to be hanging around the lead all the time."
Cook grabbed the lead on Friday with a bogey-free 62 at the Seaside Course and never relinquished it. He didn't make a bogey until he three-putted the 14th hole of the third round, which led to Henley declaring, "The dream is over." Cook made birdie at the next hole and opened a three-stroke lead heading into the final round.
Cook conceded he endured a restless night's sleep. He hadn't won a tournament since a 2014 Adams Tour Winter Series mini-tour event, which earned him $4,000. An early bogey at the second hole allowed Chris Kirk to climb within one stroke of the lead, but he fell back and eventually finished T4.
Cook never cracked, even as Spaun tried to erase his five-stroke deficit.
"I saw what he was doing," Cook said.
Cook made birdie at No. 7 and skated along with seven consecutive pars in the middle of his round.
"He's impervious to pressure," Henley said of Cook.
Cook finished in style, making birdies on three of the final four holes, including holing a 14-foot putt at the last. When asked how winning compared to how he envisioned such a scenario growing up, he said, "Better. It was way better because it actually happened. You always grow up thinking that you can do it, but actually being able to get the job done and perform and hold all these nerves down and still put in a good round especially in these conditions and on this golf course, I'm just so happy."
All of the perks that go with winning on the PGA TOUR were just beginning to sink in for Cook, such as THE PLAYERS Champinoship and the Masters. He recalled that he had attended a Tuesday practice round once before at the Masters and promised himself he would never go back until he earned an invitation. Mission accomplished. And he's well on his way to achieving much more.
Cook also has his sights set on the FedExCup, "Now my goal is to make a good long run in the Playoffs and make a run at East Lake ... try and win the FedExCup."
"My goal coming into the year was to win Rookie of the Year, and I'm on a good path so far," Cook said.
SPAUN KNOCKS ON THE DOOR AGAIN. A solo second-place finish for J.J. Spaun is the best finish of his young PGA TOUR career. Spaun, 27, became the forgotten man in his rookie season when he cooled off after three top-10 finishes through April. But he showed this fall that he's got the game to win and win soon. Spaun held the 54-hole lead at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, but struggled down the closing stretch and fell to T10. He bounced back the next week at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, finishing T14. His runner-up at The RSM Classic vaulted him 36 spots in the FedExCup to No. 10, and likely secured his playing privileges for next season.
"I feel like I'm just knocking on the door," he said. "Eventually I think that door will open."
HARMAN'S BEST FALL. EVER. That's how Brian Harman termed the start to his 2017-2018 season. It's tough to argue with three top-eight finishes, topped off by a T4 at the RSM Classic.
"I tend to fade out at the end of the year, so I'm proud of how I played this fall.I drove it really well in Asia and again this week and started to make some putts," he said. Harman, who finished T5 at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES and eighth at the WGC-HSBC Champions, improved his score all four days at The RSM Classic. He closed with a 65 at Seaside that included a 6-iron into the wind at No. 13 to 3 feet.
Harman, a Sea Island resident, had missed the cut the last two times he played The RSM Classic. He also finished tied for low-Georgia Bulldog honors with Kevin Kisner and Chris Kirk. "It's been a great year," Harman said. "Doesn't mean it can't get better."
SILVERMAN SHINES. What a difference a year makes for Ben Silverman. A year ago, he had to play all three stages of PGA TOUR Q-School to regain his Web.com Tour status. He did that, notched a win and finished 10th on the Web.com Tour money list to earn his card. And he's off to a fast start as a PGA TOUR rookie. Silverman shot 66 on Sunday to cap a week of four rounds in the 60s, and his second top-10 finish of the Fall Series. Silverman finish T8 to go along with a T7 at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
"It feel like it happened fast," he said.
If you're looking for a player with a good underdog story, look no further than Silverman. He walked on to the "B team" at Johnson & Wales University, tried his hand at the Hooters Tour in 2010 and lost his savings in five events, and ended up winning more than 30 times on the Minor League Golf Tour before working his way up the food chain to the PGA TOUR.
"I never gave up," he said. "The road I took has made me mentally tough."
Silverman, a Canadian who makes his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., is hoping his strong performance will get him into the Waste Management Phoenix Open so he can experience the rowdy crowds, the Honda Classic near his adopted home, and the RBC Canadian Open, where he was a Monday Qualifier in 2014. He missed the cut and watched Jim Furyk play on Saturday. A breakthrough 2017 also included the birth of his first child, 4-month-old Jack Palmer Silverman. With a name like that he may be destined to be a golfer, but dad cracked, "he probably won't even play when he's older."
GAY'S WALK-OFF – Bogeys at Nos. 2 and 4 took Gay out of the trophy hunt early, but the 45-year-old TOUR veteran rebounded with two late eagles at Nos. 15 and 18 to finish alone in third, his best finish since a T3 at the 2017 Barbasol Championship.
Gay holed out from 161 yards with a 9-iron. When asked to recall the last time he had holed out his final shot from the fairway, Gay said, "I don't think I ever have. Never, ever, not even at home."
SNEDEKER PASSES THE TEST – In his first start since mid-June, Brandt Snedeker finished T29 at The RSM Classic. He said he felt no pain after being sidelined with a rib injury.
"I'm as relieved as I've ever been coming off an injury. Usually there's a setback," he said. "I'm ready to hit the ground running on the West Coast."
Snedeker, 36, said he expects to play four tournaments in a row beginning at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
POTTER'S ACE – Davis Love III was in a deer stand a week ago when Johnnie Morris, the owner of Bass Pro Shops, called and said he wanted to contribute to The RSM Classic.
"How about you do something if someone makes a hole-in-one," Love said.
Ted Potter Jr., was the beneficiary of this phone call. Potter holed an 8-iron at the 180-yard par-3 sixth hole and was awarded a $10,000 gift card to Bass Pro Shops.
"I'm sure a lot of it may go to my son, find the toy section there, and then hopefully find some hunting gear," he said. "They've got plenty of stuff."
A $10,000 donation also will be made to the Davis Love Foundation.
BABY LINGMERTH – Four rounds in the 60s left a smile on the face of another Arkansas grad, David Lingmerth. He played three times this season, and his T17 at The RSM Classic was his best finish. Now, Lingmerth, 30, is getting ready for a new addition to the family. He and his wife, Megan, are expecting their first child on Dec. 19.
"Timed it perfectly in the off-season," he cracked.
LOVE'S SURGERY – Davis Love III said he is scheduled to undergo hip-replacement surgery on Nov. 21. Love knew something was wrong with his left hip when he played the Sanderson Farms Championship, but he wanted to delay surgery until after competing in and hosting this week's RSM Classic. Love will undergo surgery at the Andrews Institute Total Joint Center in Birmingham, Ala. Love said he expects to be sidelined for three months.
"I hope to be back for the Florida swing," Love said.
"I had a small moment with myself, teared up a little. I had to put the sunglasses back on."-- Austin Cook on the moment he sensed he was going to win after making a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 17 to take a three-stroke lead.
"You say, 'Go in the hole,' so many times and they never do. I'm like 'Go in,' and then it rolled right in." -- Brian Gay on holing a 9-iron from 161 yards on 18 to finish alone in third place.
Low final round: On a blustery day, Ryan Armour, Brian Harman and David Hearn shot 65.
Lowest round of the week: Winner Austin Cook shot a bogey-free 62 on Friday to grab the lead and never surrendered it. J.J. Spaun matched his 62 on Saturday.
Longest drive: Trey Mulinax belted a 361-yard drive at the 15th hole Sunday. In case anyone thought it was a fluke, he cranked a 357 yarder at the 16th, which was the second-longest of the day.
Fewest putts, final round: Ben Martin, who tied for the lead with 10 one-putt greens, and Ben Silverman each took 24 putts on Sunday.
Longest putt: Tom Hoge drilled a 54-foot, 1-inch putt for birdie at the par-3 3rd.
Easiest hole: The par-5 15th hole at Seaside played to a scoring average of 4.452.
Hardest hole: The par-4 14th hole played to an average of 4.153.
CALL OF THE DAY
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Brian Gay's amazing eagle hole-out at The RSM Classic
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Congrats to @austincookgolf on the W! Unbelievable to Monday qualify yourself right to a victory. Get yourself out of that stand bag pro! 😂😜— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) November 19, 2017