MIAMI: American Austin Cook captured his first US PGA Tour title Monday in only his 14th career start, making birdies on three of the last four holes to win the RSM Classic.
Cook fired a three-under par 67 at the Seaside course on Sea Island, Georgia, to finish four shots clear of compatriot J.J. Spaun on 21-under par overall.
“It just means so much, just walking up 18,” Cook said. “You always think you can do it but to come out and perform and do it, it’s just unbelievable.”
The 26-year-old from Arkansas became the fourth consecutive winner of the event to make it his first PGA triumph.
Cook, who will jump from world number 302 into the top 150, owned a three-shot lead when the day began and admitted “I slept terrible last night” pondering what a victory might mean to his career.
Spaun began the back nine with a birdie to trim Cook’s lead to a single stroke, but stumbled with a bogey at 11 and Cook’s closing charge sealed matters on a breezy day.
“I knew it was going to be a grind all the way to the end with this wind,” he added. “When I got downwind, when I was on those holes and knew I could just play good golf, that’s when I finally felt comfortable.”
Cook sank a three-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th, dropped a 14-foot birdie putt at the 17th and closed with another 14-footer on the final green to clinch victory in style.
“Whenever something bad happened I was able to brush it off and stay in the moment,” he added.
“The nerves and everything on the inside, no it wasn’t stress-free. Having a three-shot lead coming to 18, I felt pretty comfortable with it.”
American Brian Gay eagled two of the last four holes to fire a 68 and finish third.
Gay landed his second shot inches from the cup at 15 and tapped in, then made double bogey at 16 only to close his round by holing out from the fairway from 161 yards.
Host Tiger Woods will make his latest return from injury at the Hero World Challenge invitational in the Bahamas starting November 30, while the next full Tour event will be the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January.