April 16, 1999
HILTON HEAD, SOUTH CAROLINA
JAMES CRAMER: We have John Cook, 46 under par, 67 today for a 9-under 133 total. You talked about wanting another round in the 60s. You did.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, backed it up. Haven't done much of that this year. So that was nice to follow up real good. Solid, smart round with another solid semi-smart round. So that, again, I haven't done that this year. So I was anxious to get out there this morning and see what was going to happen. The conditions were tough; as tough as yesterday for at least my first nine holes, the backside. The wind was blowing pretty good and pretty steady and coming from a different direction. So you had to adjust pretty quickly to what the conditions were. I seemed to do that; made good decisions and didn't think too much about how bad the conditions were, but just trying to hit good golf shots. And I did that most of the day. So that was pretty enjoyable.
JAMES CRAMER: Why don't we go over your card now.
JOHN COOK: I started on the backside and hit a good drive on 10, a nice 7-iron and started out the day with a 3-putt. So, not really the start I wanted to. But came right back with a birdie at 11. Hit a drive and 8-iron about 25 feet and rolled that in. I had a good up-and-down at 13 out of the front bunker. Then birdied 14, hit an 8-iron about twelve feet, just short, left of the hole. Birdied 15, hit a wedge about two feet. 17, hit one of the best shots I might have ever hit. The wind was blowing 100 miles an hour when we were there. It was blowing so hard I had 157 yards and hit a 4-iron and just totally creased it. And luckily the wind did not stop blowing, because otherwise it had gone over the 18th tee. But just held up just right and hit it about eight feet. I missed the putt. But I was so happy to be even putting the wind was blowing so hard, the others, Jay Haas and Olin Browne, hit the same club and the wind kind of had died down and they both hit it way long. I was real happy with that. Then made a nice up-and-down at 18. So played 16, 17, 18, made three pars, which probably weren't three pars from a lot of guys at that point in time during -- that time of day, it was whipping pretty good. I bogeyed one. I hit a nice drive and 8-iron, looked like the wind stopped, landed in the front bunker and didn't have any shot. Missed about a 10-footer. Birdied two, driver 3-wood just short of the edge of the green. Pitched it up two feet. Birdied 4, again, 4-iron about two feet. Birdied 5, hit a driver and 2-iron about 15 feet short of the hole and somehow left it on hanging over the back lip. I don't know, someone has to explain to me how a ball can be half over the hole and on the back lip and not go in. I will bitch about not making that putt. Should have gone in. Then had chances at 6 and 7 from twelve feet and didn't cash in. Made a nice up-and-down at 8. Another 5-footer at 8 for par. Parred 9. So it was a pretty good, solid ball strike change day. It was difficult out there.
Q. You were talking yesterday about things you worked with Ken Venturi. You didn't really get specific. We didn't press you on it. It is two days in a row, maybe you will tell us now.
JOHN COOK: No. We don't -- we just talk about -- we talked. And what we work on is just stuff between us. And it is more -- a lot of it is mechanical; the same things. But also a lot of it is just one-on-one personal things that we made a pact that we don't get into. It is nice to have somebody that takes an interest in you as much as you want to be with them. He is more than just a teacher. A lot of guys have teachers out there. That is great. They can have someone check them daily, weekly, you know, and on the practice tee tell them what to do with their swing. Ours goes way beyond that, where we actually get a chance to play. It is fun for me and it is exciting for me to be able to set up a day with him to go play golf on the golf course and hit shots instead of just grabbing another ball and hitting a shot and grabbing another one, hitting a shot and having the teacher say that looks good, that looks good, that looks good. To actually get out on the course and see what these swings are doing and putting your swing into play. So I am pretty lucky that way, that I have somebody that I can do that with. That is basically what we do, is we play a lot of golf. To be able to play with one of the great players of all time and be a friend with him and have him get as much out of that day as you do, that is pretty fun. That is pretty special. Not a lot of guys get to do that.
Q. How did that relationship begin?
JOHN COOK: Oh, years ago. I was 14. I mean, it is so long ago that -- he was the director of golf at Mission Hills Country Club at Palm Springs and we had joined the golf course and my father knew him through auto racing because Ken was a big racing fan. We just kind of hooked up that way. For him to have taken an interest in a kid that was, you know, liked golf and was decent at golf, but not a great golfer, you know, he knew that I had other things that I liked to do. I played a lot of basketball; enjoyed racing, and enjoyed the beach and enjoyed skiing and all that; not really right up his alley, but he kept with me and he knew that I enjoyed the game and I wanted to learn. I was pretty lucky that he kept that interest in me even when I was young. He didn't have to do that. He could have put me onto his assistant pro or somebody, and gone that way. But I am pretty lucky to have -- he is -- I mean --
Q. He has been around for the entire --
JOHN COOK: -- 27 years. I have never worked extensively with anybody else. I have seen a couple of guys just that of played golf with some guys that, you know, that are good players and we talk a lot about -- they know what my swing does, so they can help me when I am at home sometimes; they know what I am trying to do. But Ken has been my only teacher that I have sought out and had gone to.
Q. How often do you all see each other?
JOHN COOK: Not that much. We see each other quite a bit, but to actually work together is something different. Like I said, he is not out every single week where he can watch me hit balls. He likes it that way and I like it that way because you do have to learn on your own. At this point in time I needed to spend a day with him and it was well worth it. Whatever happens this weekend, I have got a good foundation now that I can start my year finally. I feel like I have got a direction. I hit quality shots.
Q. Seems like the last time we have had this type of conversation was last year in Dallas where you had struggled in Houston, I think -- you won the Byron Nelson. Are you feeling that magic now?
JOHN COOK: Oh, I feel better than I did three weeks ago, I can tell you that. Last year I worked a couple of days with him before Jacksonville and I had a nice tournament at Jacksonville; played decent at Augusta and made no birdies. Then had a bad -- had one bad hole at Houston but actually saw a lot of progress. I hit a lot of good shots then at Dallas, so I had a nice run there. Like I said, out there, I'd like to see more of him because it always seems that when we do spend some time together I start to play a little bit better progressively, but that is not really in the cards because he is not around all the time. It is one of the reasons we are making a move to Orlando is so I can maybe get down to see him every once in a while when he is not doing anything. That is one of the majors reasons why we are moving from the west coast.
Q. Does he work with anybody else?
JOHN COOK: He has, yeah, not extensively, but there has been guys that have gone to see him and have played pretty well after spending some time with him. He is not mechanical. He is very fundamental and he likes to get out to play. He enjoys playing with good players; kind of -- to see him get pumped up, it gives you as much enthusiasm as anything. He has worked with a lot of guys, actually, but probably none extensively. So I feel pretty lucky.
Q. How well does he play?
JOHN COOK: He still plays pretty well. He still -- it is amazing to see him hit it. He is going to be 68 and he can still hit it -- he hit some good looking shots.
Q. You say the most recent time was -- specifically when was the last time you and he played together and talked and --
JOHN COOK: I would say March of last year 1998.
Q. It is not so recent?
JOHN COOK: It was Tuesday.
Q. Oh, I didn't hear that?
JOHN COOK: This past Tuesday, but before that we actually spent a day or two together was in March last year.
Q. Where did this take place?
JOHN COOK: Right over here over at Wexford.
End of FastScripts....