Austin Cook shoots 62 to take narrow lead at RSM Classic going into weekend
A tour rookie is leading a tour veteran by one at the halfway point in Georgia
Austin Cook started his 2017-18 PGA Tour season with two top 25s in his first three events, and he seems intent on another one and then some at the RSM Classic this week. After a 66 on Thursday, Cook shot a stunning 62 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay going into the weekend in the final official PGA Tour event of 2017.
Cook, who could make more money this weekend than he's made in his entire PGA Tour career combined ($752,000) has only played in 13 PGA Tour events and has never had his card full-time until this season. He finished in the top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list last season, though, and is clearly taking advantage of an early season opportunity on the big boy circuit.
Cook's round on Friday was punctuated with four birdies on the front nine and four more on the back including one at the last for the round of the event thus far. There's a long way to go, of course, with tons of scoring opportunities, but the only player within even four strokes of Cook is Gay at 13 under. He trails Cook (14 under) by one, and nobody else is better than 9 under.
Gay had himself a day on Friday, too. Following a Thursday 65, he shot a 64 on Friday and has just one bogey on the week. He's been lights out with the putter, gaining 3.5 strokes on the field on Friday in some blustery conditions.
"I putted really good today," Gay said. "I thought it was a tough day out there. I made some nice putts early to get me going. I love bermuda grass greens, and I've always liked the golf course."
Gay is in a lot of ways Cook's opposite. While Cook is playing in just his 14th career PGA Tour event, Gay is playing his 523rd. He has four wins in that span but none since 2013. Gay didn't play at all in 2014-15 and only played 13 times in 2015-16 because of injury.
So in a lot of ways, both players are simply delighted to be in the position they're in, and both are aiming for a common goal no matter the level of experience: Notch a late-year win and get into the Tournament of Champions to kick off January 2018.
The other big story emerging from the RSM Classic is Brandt Snedeker. The former Ryder Cup player has not played since the summer after a sternum injury kept him out. He opened with a 67-67 is 8 under, T6 and just six off the lead. He even surprised himself with his 67 on Thursday considering he was using this tournament as a test for where he's at heading into 2018.
"I'm kind of shocked to be honest, I thought I'd have more pain," Snedeker told reporters. "For the most part two days in, so far so good."
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