Sometimes the 104th time is the charm.

In his fifth season on the PGA Tour, Talor Gooch can call himself a winner after capping a dominant weekend at the 2021 RSM Classic by hoisting the trophy Sunday.

Gooch jumped into the lead in the second round of the tournament, and he would never relinquish his hold on the top of the leaderboard, shooting a 64 in the final round to finish at 22-under 260 for the week.

“Man, it was a great week,” Gooch said. “I played well all week obviously, and today being a crucial day, I had a couple opportunities where things could have taken a turn for the worse, and I was able to make some clutch putts.

“At the beginning of the week I got with Callaway and we got a new putter in the bag and it worked out pretty good for the week. I made a few putts this week.”

To be accurate, Gooch gained more than 5.0 strokes putting over three rounds on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He bogeyed just twice while recording 20 birdies and two eagles, and tied 2016 RSM champion Kevin Kisner for the lowest score in tournament history.

Entering the round with a three-stroke lead over Sebastián Muñoz and Seamus Power, Gooch saved his best for the back nine. Mackenzie Hughes shot 5 under over his first nine holes to draw to within two strokes of Gooch, but the newly 30 Oklahoma native responded with birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 as he went back up five strokes and hit his target score.

“I knew from the beginning of the day, I kind of had 20 in my mind. I was like if I can get to 20, that's going to make the rest of the field have to do something good,” Gooch said. “So you kind of have that number in mind, but as I proved, you almost put limitations on yourself if you start thinking about scoreboards and start thinking about scores and whatnot.

You're aware of the leaderboard, but it doesn't really affect what you're doing until the last couple holes if things start getting tight. So you're aware of what's going on, but it doesn't really change your game plan.”

With a birdie on 13 and 15, the only intrigue remaining down the stretch would be if Gooch could set an RSM record with a birdie on any of his final three holes. An approach shot on 18 that landed more than 38 feet from the pin all but ended the pursuit of the milestone — his birdie putt was about 6 feet short — but Gooch’s first win on the Tour was more than consolation enough.

Gooch looked to breathe a sigh of relief and give a soft fist pump to the crowd as he watched his final putt rolled into the cup.

“If you don't have nerves, you've got something wrong with you,” Gooch said. “Everybody handles nerves and pressure differently and through time I've figured out a way to channel those thoughts and those feelings and those nerves into a good way. I try to be as calm, cool and collected as I can and I know that my golf will benefit the calmer, cooler and more collected I can stay.

“I wish I could be like Tiger and throw in fist pumps around everywhere, but I learned through experience that I can't handle those highs and then come back down and hit a golf shot very well after that, so I have to kind of stay calm. Even though on the outside it may look calm, there's definitely some water churning on the inside. Like I said, everybody's got nerves and you just have to learn how to handle it.”

It’s been quite a couple months for Gooch, who is on by far the best run of his career. After finishing in the top 10 just seven times over his first 98 events, Gooch has placed in the top 10 three times in his last six tournaments, along with two more T11 finishes.

And where better for Gooch to gain his elusive first win that the RSM, where he becomes the seventh first-time winner in 12 years of the event. Four of the last five RSM Classic winners led outright following the second and third rounds, though Gooch managed to avoid a fourth consecutive playoff at the event.

Hughes, the 2016 RSM champion, shot a 62 on the day to finish second at 19 under, and Day 1 leader Muñoz hung around to finish third at 18 under.

“I knew it was going to require a low one today and if you told me I would have shot 62 I thought I might be pretty close, but Talor obviously played great this week and deserved to win,” Hughes said. “Looking at my own game, I feel like I've been getting better with each week and just trying to get better each week and feel like my game is trending in the right direction and hopefully sooner rather than later we'll get one of those wins.”

Aside the winner, Tyler McCumber may have had the best day of anyone on the final day of the tournament, tying an event record with a 10-under round of 60 that lifted him into a tie for fourth.

But it’s difficult to top a round that lifts Gooch to the top of the FedExCup standings for the first time in his career.

“It’s going to get me into some tournaments I wasn't into prior to this week,” Gooch said. “I want to get to Atlanta, I want to get to the Tour Championship and this puts me a little bit ahead of the ballgame for that journey.”

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