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January 20, 2018

Austin Cook

La Quinta, California

DOUG MILNE: Like to welcome Austin Cook to the interview room here at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Great round today, 8-under 64 at La Quinta, capped off by that, wonderful probably is a fair word, par save at 18.


DOUG MILNE: So just a few comments on the round and then we'll take a couple of questions.

AUSTIN COOK: Missed a few putts early, but starting on my fourth hole I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling. Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens today. I think that was one thing we had issues with yesterday is we weren't gelling very good on the reads and today we were and we were able to hit the ball right where we were looking and just had a great round.

DOUG MILNE: This is your first time playing here, is this kind of what you expected based on what you talked to guys about?

AUSTIN COOK: Yeah, definitely. I've been in a pro-am scenario before on the WEB.COM, so I knew that there were three rounds with an amateur and I didn't realize that we switched amateurs every day this week, but that's pretty cool, it's good for the amateurs they get to play with more guys and have more fun, I hope. But the golf going from three different golf courses I've done that before, so I know how to kind of prepare, but I came in from Hawaii on Monday so I only had two days to prepare for three courses, so I had to do it quick.

DOUG MILNE: You've already won once on the PGA TOUR this year and David asked you on TV, is that, that's got to really help kind of, not control, but put you at ease a little bit of the.

AUSTIN COOK: Yeah, I think that tonight the nervous, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less. Being comfortable, I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island, but I feel like I'm in a comfortable spot right now with my game and just everything's going fairly well and I just hope to continue that tomorrow.

DOUG MILNE: Questions?

Q. How tough was the wind today? And go through, walk us through what you did on that par save on 18.
AUSTIN COOK: The wind was a lot stronger when I was warming up than it was when I started playing and then I think throughout the day it gradually got less. I know whenever we were walking up 17 and 18 it really wasn't doing much to our ball at all. Not as much as we were thinking it would.

Then on 18 we hit a hybrid thinking that would leave us short of the bunker and just left of it and it just kind of stayed right and ended up -- I guess the wind helped a little there, down wind -- and it got to the bunker, up into the front of it. I had to -- I had a perfect number for a pitching wedge and I just chunked it and my pitch shot was below average. I missed my spot by about two yards and it went 20 feet by and Kip said, let's finish this like we did yesterday or the first day at the Nicklaus Course. We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, let's just do the same thing, let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in. We read it appropriately and it went in.

Q. Last year on when you were on the WEB.COM it looked like you had kind of a rough start in the first few months, you had a few missed cuts. Can you talk about how you feel right now, you said you feel you're in a pretty good place, where were you there and what enabled you kind of to turn it around and make that season one that got you out here?
AUSTIN COOK: Yeah, I guess starting last year at the Bahamas, we didn't have that great of weather, I don't know if anybody remembers. But the first week I had a pretty good tournament, I think it was like a 12th for those wind conditions, that was pretty good. But I kind of just leveled off, I didn't really play great until starting about the middle of the season in New York and I went on a six week stretch where I made the cut and finished like Top-20 and really was able to get the ball going. But I think the biggest thing for me at that moment was I switched my putting style a little bit. My grip on my putter. I just kind of went back to what I used to have, which is a lot more my hands are more connected instead of apart on the putter. It started clicking, I started making putts and it hasn't stopped, I've been able to continue good putting and good ball striking and just all around my game has improved a lot in the last year and a half.

Q. Do you think, was today playing La Quinta today a fortuitous thing for you? It's just the luck of the draw, but it's a little more protected from the wind than the others?
AUSTIN COOK: We're a lot closer to some of the mountains and I think that that helped us out. I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today on the three the way that would have worked out. I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them and I'm just happy that I was able to take advantage on that golf course even though there was a little bit more wind.

Q. Now that it's over and you can be honest, what's the, how were you feeling Saturday night Sunday morning of RSM?
AUSTIN COOK: I was actually, it was a lot better than I was in Houston back in 2015. That one I remember not eating a whole lot of dinner that night, we went to Chewy's maybe and I just didn't really want to do much. But I think nerve-wise I was fine. I didn't sleep very good. I told my wife, she's over there, she has restless leg syndrome and she was, that night it was kicked in and she was moving constantly, so I was having an issue going to sleep and I told her after the round I said, you are the reason I slept terrible. I think about midnight I finally got to go to bed. But the nerves, it was just a lot of thinking more or less how life could change if I was able to complete the job on the next day and luckily it happened.

Q. Is there something maybe that you learned from Houston and RSM that will help this third time now?
AUSTIN COOK: Yeah, I think that from Houston and all the way up through the WEB.COM I have learned to just kind of let things roll off your shoulder, don't keep things bottled up. If you make a bad shot, so be it, you move on to the next one. Because that next one counts just as much as the one that you just hit. Just kind of forget and just move on. And I think I was able to do that really well at the Sea Island, I didn't hit that many bad shots, but whenever I put myself in a bad situation I didn't get mad, I just looked at the next shot, whether it was a chip or whatever, and moved on.

Q. What is the most important part of the transition from WEB.COM to the PGA TOUR? Is it physical, mental, technical, kind of describe what's gone into that?
AUSTIN COOK: I think the biggest thing is mental. Just getting comfortable out here. Knowing that you're on this platform now, you're at this stage, and you've earned your way here and you know that you can play, but now you just have to prove it to yourself and prove it to the world and you just got to get -- the quicker you get comfortable and the nerves go out the window on the first hole, then the better off you'll be.

Q. Where are you on that comfort spectrum? Do you figure pretty much there or do you still have a ways to go?
AUSTIN COOK: No, I definitely think I'm there. Coming into this year I knew that I think or I felt like I had an advantage overall the other rookies because of my 2015 season, playing seven events and then I think nine or 10 total before I earned my card. So I had been out here and I had proven to myself that I can compete and get into contention on the weekends, so coming in I was, I feel like I was more comfortable than everybody else and just had a good mind and a good mindset coming into the year.

Q. Did you go into today believing you really had to put a low number up there or what was your mindset going in?
AUSTIN COOK: Yeah, seeing what the guys had already done on the La Quinta and Nicklaus tournament, knowing that they had this course today or the Stadium today, I knew that I needed to take advantage. I didn't think that they were really going to run away playing the Stadium, but I needed to catch up to them. I was looking for 6-under or better and I was able to get 8. So it's put me in a good spot for tomorrow.

Q. Wondering, as a guy who is known for hitting it straight, do you like the Stadium Course and being so penal because you're in a lot of fairways and it puts other guys maybe in a little more peril?
AUSTIN COOK: There are a few of the holes out there that can get a little scary for somebody who doesn't hit it straight -- and I'm not saying I hit it straight all the time, but I'm fairly consistent. I think it will be good, there's not that many drivers, there's a lot of just strategic holes and I think that I can put myself in a good spot on those but the ones where you have to hit a great drive and you have a little bit of an advantage. But the guys who are playing good, they're all hitting the ball well, so going into tomorrow whatever happens is going to be fun and just look forward to it.

Q. You may play with Andrew, can you just describe maybe his game and what your relationship is like?
AUSTIN COOK: Yeah, he's very similar. He hits the ball straight and not very far, but I think we're both just above average or so on distance. But he's a very good putter and he chips the ball really well. I think we compliment each other a lot, our games are very similar, and if I got to play with him -- he graduated in 2009 and I came in 2009 and so we never played on the team together, but he stuck around for a year and we spent a lot of time together on the Adams TOUR and then the WEB.COM when we were on this together. I think he's a great guy, he's one of my really good friends and if I get to play with him, that's going to be a lot of fun.

Q. Can you describe your previous grip and the one you have now.
AUSTIN COOK: My grip, yeah, so it was I guess I'll just show you, my hands were kind of apart like this (Indicating), it was just like a golf club, and then now they're more on top of each other, where it's one hand really touching instead of two. I think it's just given me a little more stability in my stroke and helped me, I was, with two hands one below the other -- I've always been left hand low -- and I was starting to pull it a little bit and I think just making it one spot that I'm really touching the club, it's helped with that.

Q. Can you talk about Manuka?
AUSTIN COOK: Yeah, Manuka, they're a company from New Zealand, they have a skin care product line and what they do is I believe that the Manuka plant only is in New Zealand and when the bees pollinate from the Manuka plant, the honey that they produce is, has a lot more anti oxidants and vitamins and it's healthier than other honey like we have here in the States. And they also in their products, they take, they allow bees to land on a table and they, it's an electrical current that shocks them, so they sting the plate, they go and scrape the venom off and they infuse that back into their product as well as the honey and then they also have a honey line.

DOUG MILNE: That's fascinating.

AUSTIN COOK: So it's like a natural bow Botox.

Q. I eat it.
AUSTIN COOK: Do you? Okay.

DOUG MILNE: We appreciate your time, Austin, wish you the best of luck tomorrow.

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