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April 15, 1999

John Cook


JAMES CRAMER: We have John Cook with us, 5-under par, 66. Looks like it's going to hold over the lower score of the afternoon. Maybe talk a little bit about the conditions and go over your score card.

JOHN COOK: Well, I'd say the wind's blowing about 20 in here, you can imagine what it's blowing like outside. It was difficult, obviously, today. It was, you know -- you know, when the wind blows here, it doesn't blow from one direction, it blows all over the place. And, you know, if you had to play here, it's very difficult to understand where the direction is coming from sometimes. So I was very patient today with -- I had a good feeling for where the wind was blowing or how far it was blowing. I had a -- a lot of the shots this year, it's been maybe a little better than pitiful. To come out and hit shots that resemble golf shots today was a lot of fun. I've had no fun this year. But it's fun to be able to control your golf ball and make a few putts and actually hit shots that felt like golf shots again. So not the easiest day to do it. But if it was going to be a day that was going to put it to the test, it was today.

Q. You seemed to buck the trend where a lot of people started late, really a tough time with the wind?

JOHN COOK: Yeah, I mean, I'm sure the wind blew this morning too. But this afternoon it was really whipping. And just made those exposed holes that much more difficult. 16, 17 and 18 were extra hard. The par 3s were tough because the wind wasn't coming in a direct route, it was coming off the shoulder from some other direction. And it was tough. It really was. It was a good test of golf today. Obviously was very happy with how I played. I kind of got here today and thought even par was going to be a good score. And even par was a good score. But I got off to a nice start, hit good golf shots right away and got a little confidence going real early and made a couple putts early. And it was -- you know, again, I tried not to think a lot. I kind of got a good feel of what I was doing and just kind of went with what I felt was right. It was right most of the time. Birdie chances at 1 and 2, missed them from twelve feet. Then birdied 3, hit driver, 7-iron about six feet. Nice shot there. I birdied 4 which was a real, a nice present. I hit a 4-iron and hit it real solid. But hit it just a little left of the flag. I was going oh, my God, where is this going to go. Actually landed pin-high, 20 feet, made it down the hill, which was a great surprise. Birdied 5, I hit drive and 3-wood right just short on the front edge of the green, pitched it up about three feet. I birdied 7. I hit a 6-iron about 15 feet left of the flag. I got a very fortunate kick. I hit a real nice shot, kind of chipped the tree. The wind was blowing real hard left-to-right. Tons of balls are going to hit that tree. I got a nice break. Just kind of just bounced down. It didn't go anywhere but down. So then capitalized, made the putt. I birdied 9. Hit a 4-iron and a wedge about twelve feet behind the hole, probably. One of the only ones in the afternoon to actually keep the ball on the green - wasn't really that much of a chance to hole a putt, you could chip it in for birdie. But not many putts on 9 today. Bogeyed 10, which I didn't feel too badly about that because it was playing as hard as I have ever seen it. Hit a driver and 1-iron just to the right of the green. Didn't get it up-and-down. Got up and in from the bunker on 11. And then I birdied 13. I hit a 3-wood and 9-iron about 15 feet, made that. Then I got another nice surprise at 14, hit a 7-iron about 40 feet left of the flag, which is where I was aiming it. And rolled one in from there. So that was -- if I could add up all the putts I have made, I think, through the year, added up to about 40 feet, so that was nice to see that one go in. Then I played pretty smart. I didn't birdie 15. I had a nice chance. Bogeyed 16, I hit a -- might have been my one mistake of the day, 3-wood off the tee instead of hitting a driver. Nice 3-wood, didn't get it quite far enough to miss the tree that is on the left -- the pin's in the left. And I hit the tree with my second shot and kicked straight down in the rough and made 5. Real good shot at 17. I was going for the sweep of the par 3s, and hit a shot in there about 15 feet, missed it. Then 18, hit two good shots, 3-wood and actually a 9-iron and 2-putted. So, it was-- hit a lot of good solid shots today, which was something I have not done in a long time. That was fun.

Q. How bad of luck was it to draw an afternoon starting time today?

JOHN COOK: Well, I mean, conditions might have been a little easier this morning. I don't know. I know the wind was blowing this morning. This afternoon just kind of picked up. I knew from watching The Weather Channel that it was going to -- wind was going to kind of quarter around and become a little stronger this afternoon. So, tell you the truth, I didn't really think much about it. That was -- I just wanted -- I was anxious to get out and play and -- because I haven't played very well this year. I like this golf course, so I was anxious to get out and play.

Q. Just quickly, what has been the problem this year?

JOHN COOK: I just haven't played well. I haven't hit it well; haven't putted well; haven't really done anything. Haven't shot any real high scores, but I haven't shot any scores that -- shot a lot of 71s, 72s which nowadays, except for last week, would have done all right, but this week didn't too much -- but the rest of the weeks, it didn't do much. But I just haven't been real sharp with my iron game and that has usually been my real strong suit and it has gotten real frustrating. I can drive it in the fairway as often as I have and then got to give myself chances. But I got a nice talking to on Tuesday from Ken Venturi which is always a nice go-to for me, and tweaked a little -- just little things and got back into where I was hitting good golf shots; especially when the wind is blowing, you have to hit good solid shots. This year I just haven't hit good enough to do good.

Q. What did Ken Venturi say? What did he tell you to do?

JOHN COOK: Just the same old little things that everybody creeps into I was creeping into again and, you know, I can go back through my notes from 25 years ago and it would say the same thing. So it was nice just to get out and spend the day with someone that you admire and that is anxious to work with you as much as you are with him and you know, whether -- whatever happens the rest of the week who knows, but today was a good day. It was a good solid ball-striking day, something I haven't -- I haven't been proud of a ball-striking round this year, put it that way; where, today, I felt pretty good about how I hit the ball.

Q. What day did you all talk?

JOHN COOK: Tuesday.

Q. Was that a playing lesson?

JOHN COOK: It was -- yeah. I would say a playing lesson.

Q. Here or --

JOHN COOK: Yeah, over at Wexford. It was just a whole day of, you know, we are just good friends. It is fun to get out and away from this and get out and just spend a few hours with somebody that cares of what you are doing and it was fun. I went out there today trying to play like we played on Tuesday, just having a little bit -- trying to have a little bit more fun. Sometimes it is not fun and that -- (laughs) - sometimes it doesn't even look like it is going to be fun, but I am trying to enjoy myself just a little bit more.

Q. How important is it to come in tomorrow and to be able to string together some sub-70 rounds?

JOHN COOK: Absolutely. You hit it right on the head. It is very important for me, I think for my whole psyche, for everything that -- you know, if I don't, I don't. But I feel like I hit the ball well enough today to be excited about tomorrow to feel like I have got, you know, a decent chance to build on this day and it would be nice to shoot a good round tomorrow. I am just -- again, I am happy to have played a good round today and I am not going to put a lot of pressure on myself to go out and shoot another one tomorrow. Just kind of have to let things fall. But it will be nice to string together some good rounds which I haven't done. I think last time I strung -- I mean, I opened this year at Kapalua with two good rounds. From then on it has just been just a battle, so, it is nice to have one under your belt that -- actually to start the day and start the week with a good round. I have had good rounds but never really haven't had anything on Thursday. So it will be a nice little momentum boost for tomorrow.

Q. Can you mention any one thing maybe that Ken Venturi said to you, anyone thing that he saw that you weren't doing that you had done when you were playing well?

JOHN COOK: Yes. We just go over very fundamental stuff. He has said the same thing to me for 25 years -- probably more than that now 27 years. No new breakthrough mechanics, just, you know, he is the guy that taught me how to play golf and he can take one look at me and know how I have played and the type of shots I have been hitting and it always goes back to one or two things and it just very fundamental mechanics that we all battle sometimes and just stuff that we work on. Really a lot between he and I, but it is very fundamental things that -- we have played in a lot of wind this year, so you revert to things that are going to keep the ball on the ground which aren't necessarily mechanical -- mechanically the right thing to do with your golf swing, but it keeps the ball low, and I kind of get into that and then don't get out of it when I need to get back to hitting shots. I can't tell you how happy I am to see a ball go take off and go in the direction I was trying to hit it with a good feeling on the center of the club. It has been awhile.

JAMES CRAMER: Anything else?

End of FastScripts....

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