RSM Classic 2017
November 20, 2017
Austin Cook was chased by proven PGA Tour winners all day at the RSM Classic.
Now the Arkansas player is one of them.
The PGA Tour rookie held off veterans Brian Gay, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner and Brian Harman on Sunday at the chilly, windy Sea Island Club's Seaside Course.
Cook closed with a 3-under 67 for a four-stroke victory over J.J. Spaun. The victory in the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year gave Cook a spot in the Masters next year.
''It was definitely exciting ... real brutal with the wind,'' Cook said. ''I got off to a slow start but I was able to keep my head level and know there was a lot of golf to be played. With the wind and those conditions, a lot could happen.''
Cook birdied three of his last four holes after the three-shot lead he began the day with slipped to one over Spaun. Cook made a 14-foot birdie putt at No. 18 to finish at 21-under 261.
Spaun shot a 66.
Gay, the oldest contender of the week at 45, eagled the par-4 18th hole from 161 yards with a 9-iron to break out of a five-way tie for third and finish at 16 under. He shot 68.
Kirk (71) and Kisner (68), past winners of the tournament, St. Simons Island resident Brian Harman (65) and Andrew Landry (67) tied for fourth at 14 under.
Cook, the 26-year-old from Little Rock, earned $1,116,000 and improved to third on the FedEx Cup points list.
It's the second year in a row that a rookie won the RSM Classic. Mac Hughes survived a five-way playoff to capture the title last year in a Monday finish.
Spaun, a stocky former University of San Diego player, made the biggest move of the day and twice cut Cook's lead to one shot - the last time on an 8-foot birdie putt at the par-4 16th.
However, Spaun bogeyed No. 17 when he failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker, and Cook birdied No. 15 with a 4-footer and No. 17 with a 15-footer to seal the victory.
Spaun's birdie at No. 16 could have put him into a tie for the lead but he missed a 4-foot birdie attempt on the previous hole.
''That (Spaun's miss at No. 15) was big,'' said Cook, who said he's an obsessive leaderboard-watcher and knew exactly when Spaun had come within a shot.
Cook, who has Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley, carrying his bag, never slipped after a bogey at the second hole, just his second of the week. He missed only two fairways in the final round and made par after four of his five missed greens. He led the field in scrambling, converting 11 of 12 pars after missing greens, and tied for fourth by hitting 48 of 56 fairways.
''With Kip on the bag, he was able to keep me in the moment and keep me pressing instead of playing conservative,'' Cook said. ''There was a lot of stuff going on, mostly up here (tapping his head). My ball-striking was great and for the most part, my putting was great. Holding the nerves down, playing a good round in these conditions. ... I'm so happy.''
November 19, 2017
PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.
Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.
''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''
Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.
''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''
Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.
''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''
J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.
''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.
''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''
He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.
''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''
Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.
''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''
November 18, 2017
PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.
Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.
''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''
The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.
The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.
''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.
''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''
First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).
Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.
''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.
''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''
November 17, 2017
Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.
Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.
''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''
The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.
''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''
The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.
''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.''
Joel Dahmen had a 64.
''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.
''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''
Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.
''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''
He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.
''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.
Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.
''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.
Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.
Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.
Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.
|2||USA||J. J. Spaun||-17||-||67||70||62||66||265|
|T13||TPE||Cheng Tsung Pan||-12||-||68||65||70||67||270|
|T13||USA||Ted Potter Jr.||-12||-||68||68||67||67||270|
|T37||KOR||K. J. Choi||-7||-||69||68||69||69||275|
|T45||USA||J. J. Henry||-6||-||70||68||70||68||276|
|T45||RSA||Tyrone van Aswegen||-6||-||68||70||67||71||276|
|T54||ZIM||Brendon de Jonge||-4||-||67||67||73||71||278|
|CUT||USA||Charles Howell III||-1||-||71||70||-||-||141|
|CUT||USA||J. T. Poston||2||-||68||76||-||-||144|
|CUT||USA||T. J. Vogel||2||-||73||71||-||-||144|
|CUT||USA||Billy Hurley III||3||-||71||74||-||-||145|
|CUT||USA||Davis Love III||3||-||72||73||-||-||145|
|CUT||USA||D. A. Points||5||-||73||74||-||-||147|
|CUT||USA||Davis Love IV||7||-||76||73||-||-||149|