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Cook coasts to RSM Classic victory

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- Austin Cook captured his first PGA Tour title by coasting to a four-stroke victory at the RSM Classic on Sunday in St. Simons Island, Ga.

The PGA Tour rookie closed his 3-under-par 67 on Sunday with a pair of birdies and finished 21-under 261 for the tournament at the Sea Island Club's Seaside Course.

The victory in the final official event of the calendar year gives the 26-year-old Cook exemptions into the Masters, the PGA Championship and the Players Championship next year.

Prior to his win, Cook had two top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour -- a tie for sixth place at the 2015 Barbasol Championship and a tie for seventh place at the RBC Canadian Open.

"The only professional event I've won was an Adams Tour Winter Series event," Cook said, per Golf Week. "I've been close on the ( Tour) 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."

Cook was quick to credit his family, which was in attendance.

"They've been with me through thick and thin," Cook said. "My parents do the whole thing, starting out with junior golf and have been with me through the whole thing, and my wife, (too). ... Just to have their support, I couldn't be happier."

J.J. Spaun shot a 66 on Sunday to claim sole possession of second place, but a bogey on the 17th hole led to his undoing. The runner-up result surpasses Spaun's previous-best finish on the PGA Tour, a tie for fourth place at the 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Brian Gay (68) finished in third place at 266 after recording an eagle on the par-4 18th hole from 161 yards with a 9-iron.

Former tournament winners Chris Kirk (71) and Kevin Kisner (68) joined St. Simons Island resident Brian Harman (65) and Andrew Landry (67) in a tie for fourth place at 268.

Cook answered an early-round stumble of a bogey on the second hole before collecting birdies on three of his last four holes. He highlighted that last surge with a 15-foot birdie on the 17th and a 14-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

"He's impervious to pressure," Cook's caddie Kip Henley said, per Golf Week. "It's only good if you like top 5s every week. ... It's crazy how good he is."

Cook missed only two fairways in the final round and made par after four of his five missed greens. He converted 11 of 12 pars after missing greens, and he tied for fourth by hitting 48 of 56 fairways.

Back when he attended the University of Arkansas, Cook competed at Sea Island four years during the Southeastern Conference Championships.

Updated November 19, 2017

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