Mo Yoshimoto

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Rookie Austin Cook wins RSM

Monday, November 20, 2017

The RSM Classic

Sea Island, Georgia




Making his tournament debut, overnight leader and PGA TOUR rookie Austin Cook hung up a 3-under-par 35-32=67 in Sunday’s final round at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course to reach 21-under 261, good for a four-shot win over J.J. Spaun (66).


The 26-year-old, a pre-tourney 80/1 outright, claims his first PGA TOUR title in his 14th career start – fourth as a member – brushing aside a previous-best T6 at the 2015 (opposite-field) Barbasol.


Overall, the Arkansas alum is now 11-for-14 with nine career top-25 finishes and three top 10s.


He leapfrogs 158 places from 302nd in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) to a career-high 144th, and jumps 85 spots to a career-high 3rd in the FedExCup (FEC) standings.


Cook improves to 4-for-4 on the season with three top 25s and one top 10, arriving off a season-worst T50 at the OHL in Mexico.


Season Form: 1-T50-T20-T25



Brian Gay (68) finished in solo 3rd, five back; while Brian Harman (65), Kevin Kisner (68), rookie Andrew Landry (67), and first-round leader Chris Kirk (71), shared 4th place, seven adrift.




Final Leaderboard:



1- Austin Cook 66-62-66-67= 261 (-21)

2- J.J. Spaun 67-70-62-66= 265 (-17)

3- Brian Gay 65-64-69-68= 266 (-16)

T4- Brian Harman 69-68-66-65= 268 (-14)

T4- Kevin Kisner 67-68-65-68= 268 (-14)

T4- Andrew Landry 70-64-67-67= 268 (-14)

T4- Chris Kirk 63-70-64-71= 268 (-14)



Gay’s solo 3rd, culminated with a walk-off hole-out eagle-2 at 18 (from 161 yards away), is his 11th career top-3 finish in 523 career events, first of the season and second in his last 10 starts (T3, 2017 Barbasol).

Season Form: 3-T25-CUT-T18-CUT



Harman’s T4 is his third straight top-10 finish to open the season. He was T33 at the midpoint, playing the weekend in 66 and day-tying-low 65.

Season Form: T4-8-T5



Kisner’s T4 came in his season debut and is his second straight top-5 finish, ending last season with T3 at the TOUR Championship and a career-high 12th in FEC standings. He won his first (of two) TOUR titles here in 2016.



Landry’s T4 is a career best and his third top-10 finish in 24 career events, second this season in five starts. His previous best was T7 at the season-opening Safeway. Like Cook, the 30-year-old is also an Arkansas alum. He bumps from 4th in the Tour graduate reshuffle to 2nd.

Season Form: T4-WD-CUT-T59-T7



Kirk’s T4 is his first top 25 of the season in five starts (T30, Safeway), and his first top 10 since T7 at the 2017 OHL 53 weeks ago. He won his second (of four) TOUR titles here in 2014. The 32-year-old drops to 0-for-4 when leading/co-leading after 18 holes.

Season Form: T4-CUT-T34-T54-T30



Cook collects 500 FEC points for the victory and as mentioned above, vaults to a career-high 3rd in the standings, 96 points behind leader Patton Kizzire, who maintained the top spot for a second week in a row.


Kizzire finished T45 on 6-under 276 (66-69-70-71), ending a streak of three straight top-10 finishes.

Season Form: T45-1-T4-T10-CUT




Updated Top 10 in FEC standings (points):



1. Patton Kizzire (659)

2. Pat Perez (646)

3. Austin Cook (563); UP 85

4. Brendan Steele (556); DOWN one

5. Patrick Cantlay (555); DOWN one

6. Justin Rose (550); DOWN one

7. Justin Thomas (548); DOWN one

8. Chesson Hadley (458)

9. Tony Finau (453); DOWN two

10. J.J. Spaun (427); UP 36



With the win, Cook earns a two-year exemption on TOUR (thru 2019-20) and a host of invites, including to the 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions, the Masters – which will be his first major appearance – THE PLAYERS, and the PGA Championship.


He is the fourth, first-time winner on TOUR this season (eight events) and fourth straight (Kizzire, OHL; Cantlay, Shriners; Ryan Armour, Sanderson Farms).


The Arkansas native and resident made his way to the main stage after finishing 20th in the Tour priority rankings in 2017 – his second season on the junior circuit (2016). He made 18 cuts in 24 starts with 15 top 25s and eight top 10s, highlighted by a T2 at the Utah Championship (July) and T3 at the Mexico Championship (April). Cook went T8-T11-T9-CUT in the Finals.


Along with Sanderson Farms winner Armour, Cook has been removed from the WCT grad reshuffle. He is the first rookie to win on TOUR this season.



Cook’s 2017 WCT Season:


24 starts

18 made cuts

6 missed cuts


15 top 25s

8 top 10s

2 top 5s

1 runner-up



This is Cook’s first win in 66 combined starts (14 PGA TOUR; 52 WCT).




Field Scoring Average:



This was the eighth playing of the RSM, with all eight contested at Sea Island Golf Club. It was the third consecutive utilizing a 2-course rota with all golfers playing one round each on the par-72 Plantation Course (7,058 yards) and one round on the par-70 Seaside Course (7,005 yards). After the 36-hole cut, the final two rounds were on the Seaside Course.



R1: 69.761

R2: 70.297

R3: 68.466

R4: 69.425


Total: 69.682


Cook: 66-62-66-67


NOTE: No ShotLink on Plantation Course




Leader/co-leaders by Round:



R1: Chris Kirk (T4): Drops to 0-for-4 as 18-hole leader/co-leader


R2: Austin Cook (Won): Improves to 1-for-1 as 36-hole leader/co-leader


R3: Austin Cook (Won): Improves to 1-for-1 as 54-hole leader/co-leader




Cook’s Position by Round:



R1: T6

R2: 1

R3: 1




How Cook Won on Sunday:



After opening in 66 (Plantation) and career-low 62 (Seaside) – both rounds bogey-free – Cook led by one at halftime. He tacked on a 66 on Day 3 to extend his lead to three (over Kirk) heading to Sunday.


Cook hit 12 (of 14) fairways and 13 greens in regulation (GIR), posting 0.809 SG: Off-the-Tee; -0.448 SG: Approach-the-Green; and 1.259 SG: Around-the-Green.


He played his first half in level-par, trading bogey-5 at hole 2 with birdie-4 at 7, now two clear of Spaun, who turned in bogey-free 3-under one group ahead.


Spaun climbed to within one after birdie-3 at 10, his fourth circle in his last five holes, but squared the 11th.


Cook navigated his inward half in blemish-free 3-under, extending his lead back to three with a 2-putt birdie-4 at 15, and then finished birdie-birdie, from 14’5” and 13’8”, respectively. Spaun finished birdie-bogey-birdie for the final margin.




Cook’s Round 4 Stats (ranking of 73 players):



Driving Accuracy:

85.71% (T6)



72.22% (T26)



42’2” (T50)



80.00% (T12)


Total Putts:

29 (T19)



7 (T22) at 38.89%







J.J. Spaun: The World No. 164 twirled a 4-under-par 32-34=66 in the final round to finish up his second appearance (T57/2017) on 17-under 265, up two places to a career-best solo 2nd, four shy.


He was chasing his first TOUR title in his 36th career event, but settles for his first runner-up and first career top-3 finish.


Overall, it’s the 27-year-old’s fifth career top 10, replacing a previous-best T4 at the 2017 WM Phoenix Open, and his second of the season in five starts (T10, Shriners).


After kicking off in 67-70 and career-low 62, the SDSU alum began solo 4th, five back. Playing out of the penultimate threesome, he found 11 fairways and 16 GIR, gaining 1.347 strokes off-the-tee and 0.736 approaching-the-green.


The Californian squared two bogeys at 11 and 17, outpaced by six circles at 6, 7, 9, 10, 16 and 18, two from between 13 and 18 feet. He recorded 1.625 putts per GIR and 0.916 SG: Putting with 30 total putts.


Form: 2-T14-T10-T34-CUT

FEC Rank: 10th (UP 36); career high

OWGR: 116th (UP 46)






In the last 101 events on TOUR, the pre-tourney fave/co-fave has won SEVEN times. That’s a conversion percentage of just 6.93%.



This Season:


8 tournaments

1 pre-tourney fave won:



Justin Thomas: 15/2 (CJ CUP)



Last Season:


47 tournaments

4 pre-tourney faves won:



Henrik Stenson: 14/1 Wyndham (co-fave)

Jordan Spieth: 12/1 The Open

Jordan Spieth: 8/1 Travelers

Dustin Johnson: 13/2 WGC-Mexico



This week’s favorite(s):



Kisner (16/1): finished T4




Last week’s winner(s):



Kizzire (T45)




How Cook Won the Tournament:



Ranked 1st: Birdies; Par-4 Scoring

Ranked T1: Scrambling



Cook’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 73 players):



Birdies: 23 (1st)

Bogeys: 2 (2nd)



Par-3 Scoring: 2.94 (T20)

Par-4 Scoring: 3.76 (1st)

Par-5 Scoring: 4.10 (3rd)


Driving Accuracy: 48/56 (T4) at 85.71%

GIR: 60/72 (T2) at 83.33%

Putts per GIR: 1.683 (11th)

Total Putts: 114 (T12)

Putts by Round: 28-28-29-29

Scrambling: 11/12 (T1) at 91.67%

All Around: (4th)




Updated Top 10 in OWGR:



With a Strength of Field rating of 137 (down from 152 last year), Cook banks 30.00 world-ranking points and vaults 158 places to a career-high 144th in OWGR.



1. Dustin Johnson

2. Jordan Spieth

3. Justin Thomas

4. Jon Rahm (UP one)

5. Hideki Matsuyama (DOWN one)

6. Justin Rose

7. Brooks Koepka (UP three)

8. Rickie Fowler (DOWN one)

9. Henrik Stenson

10. Rory McIlroy



Notable career-high OWGR’s:


Rahm: Won, DP World Tour Championship (by one) in tourney debut (Euro Tour)

Koepka: Won, Dunlop Phoenix Tournament (by nine) as defender (Japan Golf Tour)







No traditional draw this week with the two-course rota in use the first two rounds. No real trend either as this year’s winner, Cook, began on the Plantation Course; last year’s winner (Mac Hughes) began Seaside; and 2016 winner Kevin Kisner began Plantation.


As far as making the 36-hole cut, it was more advantageous to begin on the Plantation Course for a third straight time.



A total of 74 players (73 pros, one amateur) from a field of 155 pros and one amateur made the 36-hole cut of 3-under 139:



Began Plantation:

38 (of 77); 1 WD


Began Seaside:

36 (of 78)


NOTE: Webb Simpson made the cut but WD prior to R3 (family illness), his second mid-tourney WD in his 239th career start, first since rookie season (2009).




12 players finished in the top 10:



Began Plantation:

9: Austin Cook (Won), Brian Gay (3rd), Brian Harman (T4), Andrew Landry (T4), Chris Kirk (T4), Ben Silverman (T8), Bud Cauley (T8), Vaughn Taylor (T8), Zach Johnson (T8)


Began Seaside:

3: J.J. Spaun (2nd), Kevin Kisner (T4), William McGirt (T8)




Low Rounds:



R1: Chris Kirk (63)

R2: Austin Cook (62); career low

R3: J.J. Spaun (62); career low

R4: Brian Harman, David Hearn, Ryan Armour (65)




Bogey-free Rounds (notables):



R1 (Plantation) = 11: Chris Kirk (63); Brian Gay (65); Austin Cook (66); Ben Silverman (67)

R1 (Seaside) = 6


R2 (Plantation) = 4

R2 (Seaside) = 6: Austin Cook (62); Bud Cauley (63); Andrew Landry (64)



R3 (Seaside only) = 12: J.J. Spaun (62); Zach Johnson (64); William McGirt (65); Bud Cauley (68)

R4 (Seaside only) = 4: David Hearn (65); William McGirt (66); Padraig Harrington (66); Johnson Wagner (68)



NOTE: multiple bogey-free rounds: Streelman (x3), Cook (x2), McGirt (x2), Cauley (x2), Wagner (x2), Stuard (x2), Kraft (x2)






Last season, 43 (of 48) winners were 39-years-old or younger


28 winners were in their 20s

15 were in their 30s

5 were in their 40s



Through 8 events this season:



3 winners were in their 20s (Cook: age: 26)

3 were in their 30s

2 were in their 40s




TOUR Rookies &/or First-Timers:



TOUR Rookies: 22

Top-10 finishes: 2



Cook claimed top-rookie honors for the first time in four starts. Joining him in the top 10 was:



Ben Silverman: Making his tournament debut, the 30-year-old, who celebrated his birthday Nov. 15th, finished T8 on 13-under 269 (67-67-69-66).


This was his sixth career TOUR start – fifth as a member – and second top 25, both doubling as top 10s (T7, 2018 Sanderson Farms).


Season Form: T8-CUT-T47-T7-T43

FEC Rank: 49th (UP 34)

OWGR: 237th (UP 25); career high

Rank after 1st WCT Reshuffle: 18th to 6th




First-Timers: 34

Top-10 finishes: 2



Same two players as above (Cook, Silverman)




Field Breakdown & Top-10 Finishes:



OWGR field average: 370th

OWGR average for top-10 finishers: 160th   


Overall, 12 players finished in the top 10.



1 of the Top 25 in OWGR were in the field

0 finished in the top 10


7 of the Top 50 OWGR

3 finished in the top 10



No. 26 Kevin Kisner (T4); pre-tourney fave

No. 27 Brian Harman (T4)

No. 48 Zach Johnson (T8)




Other top-10 finishers:



No. 81 William McGirt (T8)

No. 114 Bud Cauley (T8)

No. 164 J.J. Spaun (2nd)

No. 188 Chris Kirk (T4)

No. 199 Andrew Landry (T4)

No. 255 Vaughn Taylor (T8)

No. 262 Ben Silverman (T8)

No. 264 Brian Gay (3rd)

No. 302 Austin Cook (Won)



Other Notables:



No. 15 Matt Kuchar (T29); top-ranked OWGR

No. 39 Si Woo Kim (CUT)

No. 42 Webb Simpson (WD prior to R3)

No. 47 Brandt Snedeker (T29)

No. 51 Bill Haas (CUT)

No. 59 Charles Howell III (CUT)

No. 129 Mac Hughes (CUT); defender




Consecutive Top 10s on TOUR:



Justin Rose (1-T10-T2-T10-T10)

Jordan Spieth (T7-T7-2-P2)

Brian Harman (T4-8-T5)

Kevin Kisner (T4-T3)

William McGirt (T8-T10)

Brooks Koepka (T2-6)

Peter Uihlein (T5-T10)

Cameron Smith (3-T5)

Alex Cejka (T9-P2)



Consecutive Top-10 streaks ended:



Patton Kizzire (T45-1-T4-T10)




5 (of 8) winners had a top-25 finish the start prior (62.5%): Cook T50 (OHL)


2 (of 8) winners had a top-10 finish the start prior (25.0%)



5 (of 8) winners this season have emerged out of the FINAL group on Sunday





Patrick Cantlay (Shriners): Third-to-last threesome; erased 4-shot deficit w/ 4-under 67; won 3-man PLAYOFF (Cejka, Kim, W)


Justin Rose (WGC-HSBC): Penultimate threesome; erased 8-shot deficit w/ 5-under 67; won by two (Stenson, Koepka, Johnson D)


Brendan Steele (Safeway): Penultimate threesome; defender erased 2-shot deficit w/ 3-under 69; won by one (Finau).




Career-Best Finishes:



Austin Cook (Won)

J.J. Spaun (2nd)

Andrew Landry (T4)

Nate Lashley (T49)

Greyson Sigg (T49); sponsor, TOUR debut

Sam Ryder (T61)






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