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August 29, 1998

John Cook


LEE PATTERSON: All right, sir. Couple of thoughts about that great round and heading into tomorrow.

JOHN COOK: Yeah, not very often do you get to a place where I was today, and especially on a golf course like this. It was -- it was a great day. Obviously, I did everything right, except one little thing. Getting up to that point, I did everything I could do, try and hit good golf shots. I made good putts, I had good thoughts. I don't get all three of those going at the same time very often and I guess when I do, I can do something like that. It was a special day, it really was. It started out, I mean, right from the first tee right to the last putt that I hit was night and day from the way I played yesterday. Yesterday was embarrassing almost, how poorly I played and what I got out of it. Yesterday, I hung in there and got it around at 69 where it could have been 79 easily. And then a day like today, just kind of happened. Like I said, I did everything right today.

Q. John, you were talking about your thoughts, good thoughts. Have you thought back to last year when you also led after three rounds?

JOHN COOK: I actually hadn't until I got done, going -- you know, last year, after I got done on Sunday, I was about as low as I've ever been. It really was -- it was the greatest disappointment I've had in golf. It really was. Because I played so poorly on Sunday when I had a chance to win, you know, even the last few holes. You know, I just didn't hit good golf shots. I really didn't do much right last year and that was disappointing because normally when I get in a position like that, I play well. I don't win all the time, but I play well and I played so badly on Sunday last year, I was so disappointed, I took the next month off. I just -- I couldn't -- I was really down. So maybe tomorrow, I'll have the chance to redeem myself a little bit and at least try to play a good round of golf. I've got that in me. Whether I win or what, I don't know. But I believe that I will play better tomorrow than I did on Sunday last year and that's an important -- important thing for me to do tomorrow.

Q. Just to isolate this round, it must be a tremendous emotional high for you.

JOHN COOK: Well, you can't get -- I mean, definitely. It's a great day. And I played a great round of golf on a great golf course. But the bottom line is winning golf tournaments and I've played a lot of good rounds before. I usually book those up with some good finishes, so I'd like to do that again tomorrow. And bottom line is, you have to win golf tournaments out here and that's really my purpose of playing now is to try to keep winning. I won 10 times, which is okay -- I think, pretty good. But I want to keep winning for the next 3 or 4 years that I have left and I feel I can be competitive and tomorrow -- and a big step towards getting to that next level of competition that I've been trying to get to for 19 years. I've kind of been teetering on it and teetering and falling back. It's time that I step up and at least play a good round of golf when it really means something.

Q. John, did you see the way your galleries kept on growing as you went on and were making all of those birdies?

JOHN COOK: I really wasn't aware of that until 17. The crowd was pretty cool. I guess they knew -- when I hit it in there about six feet, they knew what was going on and that was a great moment. I think it got me too pumped up. I think I blew it right threw the break. But the crowd was great at 17. I really didn't notice it much before that. Maybe that was really, you know, why I kept focused. I see a lot of people out there, but I don't really focus in on anybody. But the crowd was great. It was a good support town. It's a great support state and they take care of the people that have some ties to Ohio or wherever you are. They're good people around here.

Q. Could you talk a little about what this tournament means to you?

JOHN COOK: Well, obviously, it's got a special place because of my father's involvement. I played here when I was a little kid. I didn't play here much past the age of eight or nine years old. So, I mean, I never really played the golf course. You don't really play it when you're eight years old. But, you know, with my dad's involvement and this being the -- kind of the last of the WORLD SERIES. It's not really the last tournament, just kind of the last of the name of the WORLD SERIES of GOLF. It's a big week. It's a big week for everybody.

Q. You were sitting in the middle of the 16th fairway having two shots. How much of it all were you thinking -- (Inaudible).

JOHN COOK: I'm tell you right now, at 16, I had hit it right exactly where I wanted it. I had 59 yards to the flag and that's really out of my sand wedge range. I'm usually about a 90-yard sand wedge player and I hit -- I'll hit this and got pumped up and I can't believe the ball flew where it flew. It flew four or five steps past the flag. But when I'm over the shot and the ball is in the air, I think: I hope this miss the flag because it has a chance to go in because it flew -- I mean, it flew three feet too far. I was actually surprised it didn't spin and go back on the green. After that, it was disappointing to lose. It was a pretty good shot. I had it right where I wanted to have it. I knew if I hit a good shot there and whether the ball was in the air, this isn't going to be very far from the hole. Unfortunately, that shot plays a little shorter than you think it does. But still I hung in there and made a good putt and standing on 17 is when I said: You know what? Let's take driver out here and take two birdies, be as aggressive as you can. I hit four good shots and hit two good putts and one bad putt.

Q. Do you allow yourself at any point, whether it be 16, 17, 15, to start thinking about the record here or was that not even in your mind?

JOHN COOK: 17, when I was on the green, was the only time I thought about it, was the first time I thought about it. I mean, I was thinking about making birdies up until then and then when I hit it -- actually, when I made the putt at 16, I got on the 17th tee and I had -- I was still feeling pretty good. And I said -- you know what -- like I said, two birdies would go a long way here and they keep -- just keep focused on the sound of the fairway and keep focused on the flag and that's where my focus was all day was where was the flag. I could find it today for some reason. About 17 -- when I hit the drive in the middle of the fairway at 17 was really when it started to touch me a little bit.

Q. David, just birdies -- going to 10, you're there. Tiger's there. O'Meara is there. A really good board seems to be setting up for a nice day. I suppose any time you're in the shadows -- having those guys there, too, does it make it even better?

JOHN COOK: Absolutely. That's what I'm here for, is to get to the -- touch the level that these guys are on every week. I'm not at that level of player. I mean, I could be. I think that I kind of touched that before, but I've never sustained that -- that edge and that's where those guys are. That's why they're the great champs they are and that's why they've won all the tournaments they have and they're going to continue to win and that's where I want to be. That's what I'm working for these next few years that I'm trying to give myself every opportunity I can to try and further myself up that board and this is a good stepping stone.

Q. Could you talk about what happened with the bogie?

JOHN COOK: I hit an 8-iron up there about six feet from the hole and with the putt going -- it was a pretty quick putt. It was straight downhill and it was breaking right-to-left and when I got up over and I said: This is slick, kind get it out there and curl in and I hit a really good putt. And Davis saw the same thing I did -- it was the putt was break and tracking towards the hole it was going to go right in the center. In the middle of the putt, it picked up speed instead of slowing down and taking it direct, it picked up speed a little bit and went right over the edge. As it went by, I kind of watched it go by and I saw it go -- it was pretty straight when it went by. It kind of came up on the second putt, but it didn't have to horseshoe. But then again, I chipped it and missed the hole. I wasn't too disappointed.

Q. It seemed a perfect day for golf from the get go -- (Inaudible).

JOHN COOK: Greens were a little soft. The fairways were a little bit firmer. So the course played a little bit -- you know, a little bit shorter and you could fire up the flags a little bit and, you know, most of the day, I had very good numbers. I drove the ball very well. I hit my irons very solidly and the right distances. You go ahead and fly it mostly to the flag today, which you couldn't do the first couple of days.

Q. (Inaudible).

JOHN COOK: Patience for me tomorrow is the big key, to stay aggressive. I wouldn't really say that this golf course fits my game that well because it's so long. But I get to drive it on every hole. I like that. If I can drive the ball well tomorrow and stay patient, I should play decently. My iron game has always been decent, so normally if I drive the ball well, I should play well. Patience is the big key, though, you're right.

Q. Why don't you go over those birdies for us, real quick.

JOHN COOK: Okay. No. 2, hit a drive to 4-wood about 60 feet and left it about five feet short and made the second putt right through a big hole, couple of spikemarks. Someone out there has got some serious cleats on. You can see where this guy walked all day and a lot of times it was in Davis' and my lines. But that putt right there kind of got me going. No. 3, I had a good drive, but I had to cut it around that one tree and hit it in the left bunker and hit a good bunker shot out -- almost made it. Tapped it in. And then I birdied 4. I hit a drive and a 3-iron on the back edge of the green and it had to be 50 feet plus. 5, I hit 4-iron about 15 feet and made that. 7, I hit a 2-iron four feet. Hit a real good shot there. Made a good par save at 9. I think it was -- I don't know -- it might have been the one fairway I missed. I missed two fairways. I didn't hit a very good shot, just up short by the green and hit a poor pitch about 15 feet by the hole and made it for par. Then the backside was pretty good. But hit a drive and 8-iron at 10, 5 feet behind the hole. 11, I hit a drive and wedge about six feet. 13, I drove it just in the right rough and ran a 2-iron up just past the flag and just on the -- just in the back rough cut and I bladed a sand wedge and made that from about 15 feet. 14, I hit a drive and a 9-iron about a foot. 15, I hit a 4-iron about 12 feet by the hole. Made a good save at 16. Well, hit -- had two good chances at 17 and 18.

Q. How far was your putt at 18?

JOHN COOK: About 12 feet.

Q. Can you explain where something like this comes from, did it come out of the blue? You can't explain it or where does a round like this come from?

JOHN COOK: I guess that's why it's a special week. You can't explain it. I really -- I hit it so poorly yesterday -- not poorly, but I just misplayed some shots yesterday and hit a lot of balls last night and felt good when I left the golf course and felt good warming up today. I guess things just kind of start from the opening tee ball. If you feel comfortable during the day -- and I did. I mean, right -- shoot, the first iron shot I hit, I hit it six feet from the hole short, dead on-line at No. 1 and missed it. And from then on, just every iron shot I hit was right at the flag. So it just kind of builds. And the one thing about it -- I just kind of let it go. I didn't really think much about it. And that's really how rounds like this happen is when you really kind of stop thinking and just kind of let your talents go, I guess. Let your game just kind of feed on itself. And, really, I didn't miss hit a shot all day, except the shot out of the rough on No. 9. That was it. On that, I hit it right in the center face every time, which, after yesterday, that was nice.

Q. All things considered, was this your best round of the year?

JOHN COOK: Yeah. I would say. I think the last round at the Byron Nelson this year was pretty strong. I've played some good rounds of golf this year, but this one definitely -- on a golf course of this caliber, absolutely. This was a pretty good round. I played very well at Sahalee most every round and I think I finished 9th there, but I didn't have a round where I just kept stuffing it. I've had round like that in the past. This was a round where I just had the right club in my hand every time I pulled it and just kept -- yeah, it definitely was my best round in a while.

Q. You've talked about how you used your work on the range last night to build positive momentum for today. Yet, now we saw what happens today. How can you build from there? I mean, this is such a good round, you said probably your best of the year?

JOHN COOK: That's one thing: It's very difficult to follow up a good round after you have a round like this. Like I say, I have done it in the past and I really don't -- I don't look back on today -- I won't look back on today. I've got a job to do tomorrow and I've got some work to do on the range this evening and I won't overdo it, but, you know, I'd kind of like to keep the positive thoughts going and just hit a few balls and -- this is our job. This is what we do. We get to hit balls for a living. So I'm hitting balls on Saturday evening.

Q. You did it at Memphis. Do you remember what you did then?

JOHN COOK: Same thing. Kind of kept to my game plan. Just never really wavered off of the schedule that I tried to keep and that was -- when I got done in the press room, I just went out, hit a few shots. Not a lot, but a few. And hit some putts and kind of went on my way. I'm trying to remember what I had for dinner last night. I'm going to have to go back and do the same thing. I had a real good dinner last night with Tiger and Mark and Stuart Appleby. I'm going to have to call them up.

Q. Where did you eat?

JOHN COOK: We ate at a place last night by the hotel. I forget what it's called. Don Pablo's, maybe.

Q. Which years did you live in Akron growing up?

JOHN COOK: Must have lived here in '61, '62, '63, '64. About right. Maybe moved out in '66.

Q. To California?

JOHN COOK: California, and then came back for college.

Q. John, you've been playing this event since you won the Amateur, I think, in '78. Do you like the format change? Do you like that change?

JOHN COOK: I don't know. I do. I think it will be a great event. I'm won of those players, though, that I'm going to always be on the cusp, whether I'm going to get in or not. You know. I've played on one Ryder Cup team and the last Ryder Cup team and the last President's Cup teams, I was very borderline. And I'll tell you what, those two captain's choices are going to be very interesting.

Q. Bigger now, aren't they?

JOHN COOK: That's what I mean. I can take care of business tomorrow and make the President's Cup team and not have to worry about what's going to happen next year. I think that the tournament is going to be wonderful. I think it's going to be a great tournament. It's going to be not a whole lot different from the this one. It's going to be about the same players. Basically, you're going to get the same players. It's just going to be a different way to get in. But for some guys that have won tournaments that kind of are always on that cusp of making the team or hoping to get picked or between 12 or 11 and 16, 17 on the list. That's kind of where I've fallen in the last five years. You know, I've -- I have to play very well in the next year to have a chance to get in.

Q. What kind of lie did have you from the backside of 16?

JOHN COOK: It was an okay lie. When haven't chipped much during the day, you're not really quite sure how the ball is going to react out of there I didn't hit a very good chip. No, I had no excuse on the chip that I hit. It is very sticky around that first cut. And I was trying to get pretty cute with it because I knew it was downhill and I actually thought I could make this chip and I really was thinking that and I just didn't -- I didn't play the right -- I mean, I played the right shot, I just didn't execute it very well. But it was pretty basic. I didn't -- I shouldn't have had to make a six-footer for par, I know that.

Q. Thank you. We appreciate it.

JOHN COOK: Thank you all.

End of FastScripts....

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