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June 17, 1994

John Cook


LES UNGER: Until the Memorial, I guess you might not call that stuff you have had on the year, but is there something different that you have been doing.

JOHN COOK: I've actually hit the ball real well all year. The first four weeks I played I missed the cut by a shot each week. It's not the best way to start out.

LES UNGER: Any questions.

Q. John, is your wrist bothered by the rough?

JOHN COOK: Only when I hit it in there. Actually if I hit it in there a lot, it will hurt by the end of the day. But that is therapy then; just to keep it out of there. I work pretty hard on it. I do stuff just about everyday, but I don't really have any problems anymore.

Q. Jack Nicholas, Tom Watson and some of these big names, just what is it like to be out there with them?

JOHN COOK: Well, it is a thrill, absolutely a thrill, but you know, that is the way that this game is. Jack in his '50s and Hale in his late 40's, and Tom, the same way and I am middle '30s and some other kids up there too, I mean, that is what the great thing is about this game is that age has no -- makes no difference when it comes to a major championship like this. That is why you see people out there following every group because that is the way the game is going. Jack, obviously, when he is on, he is the greatest player that ever lived. He might be the greatest athlete that ever lived because how many people are still contending in their '50s as good or close to as good as they were in their 20s and '30s. I mean, that is remarkable. So I am thrilled to be up there with him. I hope I beat him by the weekend. I respect him and all, but I am out here to do the same thing that they are trying to do and I think that they would say the same thing.

Q. The last several years you have put yourself-- started to put yourself in a better position in the majors. You had the British Open, PGA at Bellerive, now here. What's the difference for you?

JOHN COOK: I think that I am going about preparing for them a little bit differently. I used to have to get there and play practice rounds, get to know the course, go there the week before, do this and do that. By the time the tournament starts, you are either worn out or the course is completely changed. So I am just trying to learn the course in a couple of days before the tournament where you are going to get more of an indication of what it is going to be like and I am not putting that much pressure on myself anymore. I have got far more important things going on than being out here and -- this is what I love to do. This is what I love, being in contention like this, but I am not going to go nuts over being prepared for it. I can prepare myself just as well by just a little practice and some mental stuff, and just relaxing. I am just a lot more relaxed when I come to a major championship, except for The Masters this year. Right, Bob?

Q. Just a follow-up to your question earlier about the wrist. Did you hurt that earlier in the year?

JOHN COOK: That is an old story. I had surgery about five years ago. It is fine now.

Q. Would you have believed Tuesday that you could shoot 65 on this golf course?

JOHN COOK: No. I actually flew in Wednesday morning, flew from Los Angeles Tuesday night; got in Wednesday morning. I was at home watching my daughter in a piano recital with my little boy in an 8 year old All-Star game. I figured the greens are going to be hard and fast and there is going to be lots of rough. Like I was saying, you get here Sunday knowing it is going to be like that and I wasn't going to get here too early, but when I played it on Wednesday, I said, if anybody breaks par this week, I mean, that is going to be a great score. It still might be a great score. Depending on hopefully we don't get anymore weather, then it will be a great score, but I didn't think 65 was possible, no. Not this year.

Q. Along the same lines, had you ever seen Oakmont before this year, this week?

JOHN COOK: I have played it a quite a few times in the Family House Invitational. They have played here a couple of times. So I have played it probably ten times total; couple of times during college, I'd stop in.

Q. You said you hit-- that first hole you hit on the green. Was that the play you were trying to or you had you intended to hit short of the green?

JOHN COOK: I thought today knowing that it did rain last night that I was going to test it earlier to see what -- how the greens were going to be and I saw the ball bounce - kind of take a little bit of a check and there it was still on the green, so I said, well, if you drive the ball on the fairway and hit a lot of greens today, you should shoot a good score. I kept the ball in the right spots and, you know, just kept my ball on the green. The difference between yesterday and today was my balls stayed on the green. Yesterday, I was chipping a lot from hitting some pretty good shots. And today was -- the ball stayed on the green and actually it stayed near the hole a few times.

LES UNGER: According to Unysis, you had 26 putts, Tom Watson said, I think, he had 36. Interesting comparison. Also you had 14 greens in regulation and nine fairways.

JOHN COOK: I think 14 greens regulation is pretty good in a U.S. Open. That is pretty good. 26 putts, if you shoot 65, you are going to have 26 putts. I have been averaging about 36 for the year, so I am not giving any of those back, believe me.

Q. John, did you ever think about 63 today?

JOHN COOK: Actually, I did at one time and that is when I missed my first green. I said forget this, I am --


JOHN COOK: When I got to 6 under and I knew the hardest holes just about on the golf course to play, I said, but I still had 14 and 17 to play, but I'd say, you got to get through 12; you got to get through 13, 14, you can take -- you can take advantage of your opportunity there. 15 is not a birdie hole today. 16, sure isn't, and 18, sure isn't, so you know, only a couple of other places you can make a birdie and I gave it a shot. I hit good shots on those holes and saved myself on the ones I needed to and just didn't work out.

Q. Wearing shorts on the golf course, what do you think about that?

JOHN COOK: I'd wear them tomorrow. I am a big shorts fan. I would -- certain conditions, not every week, I don't know if you can regulate it through the temperature or heat index or whatever. I think they will wait for somebody to pass out before they will do something about it. It can be dangerous. It really can. I live in Palm Springs and if you don't play in shorts around there, you might as well not even go out and play. You can really hurt yourself. I don't see anything wrong with it, personally.

Q. John, you know as well as any American player about the talents of Haeggman. It seems like Europe has a really nice crop of young middle-aged 25, 26 year old, Peter Baker, for instance, do you talk about what you see in their games and what they might have in store for the next few years?

JOHN COOK: I have played with Yocum now, I played him in the Ryder Cup and played with him 2 rounds this week, and he is very strong. He is pretty fearless, which is you know, good at that age. You know, it is a lot -- it is like our young kind of mid 20s type players kind of coming into their own. There are so many of them here they kind of get lost in the shuffle, but with Peter Baker and Hagen, couple of other guys, I mean they have got some good talent and this type of golf course really wasn't conducive to Yocum's game. He is strong but hits it -- doesn't really hit his driver on a string like you need to in a U.S. Open. He has a lot of talent, great putter of the ball, and no surprise that he has done as well as he has over in Europe. If he played a little bit more over here, he would do well, get used to it, but like he was saying, he is very comfortable in Europe right now, and really doesn't see any need to come over here yet. He still wants to play over there and play over here when he can.

Q. John, you will be among the leaders tomorrow. Are you a scoreboard watcher at all?

JOHN COOK: No, I have too much to struggle with myself. I don't need to get caught up in that. I would watch it toward the ends of Sunday if I still had a chance to win, back 9, you know, then I would try to see what is going on and try to size it up, but until the back nine Sunday, it really doesn't count.

Q. John, after being in contention in a couple of majors, do you feel your game is to the point now where you are ready to get over that hurdle?

JOHN COOK: I do. I think right now I am as good -- or a better ball striker than I was a couple of years ago. Again, I haven't putted as well as I did a couple of years ago, but that is starting to come along. But the experience that I had in 1992 with the British Open and the PGA and the three wins that I had and, you know, a lot of the other tournaments, I feel like -- plus the Ryder Cup experience last year, you know, that Saturday match that we had with Faldo, I mean, you learn a lot from that stuff, and it is good stuff to draw upon when the opportunity comes and I think that my game is in good enough shape that it will be competitive for the weekend if I can just keep my mind on the ball, it would be okay. I shouldn't be any trouble keeping my mind where it should be.

Q. John, when last mentioned that Judy was going to talk about the slow pace of play you were nodding your head in earnest. Yet it didn't, obviously, seem to bother you. How were you able to overcome that?

JOHN COOK: Well, the pace of play on our tour has progressively gotten so slow that you just -- I mean what can you do about it? I think that I am a fast to, you know, average fast player and well above the average and you know, you got to walk a little slower or do something a little slower because it is not going to get any quicker, unfortunately. I don't know what they can do to make things go a little quicker, but pace of play is pathetic - really is pathetic, and really no cause for it; no reason for it. I mean, there is not a whole lot of decision you have to make. If you are in the rough, you chip it out. If you are in the fairway, it's a 5 or 46 iron; pick one and go hit it. What is the thought process? What takes two minutes to figure stuff like that out, I don't understand it.

Q. John, Lee Janzen said recently he finds sometimes his mind focuses more on defeats than on victories. Did you ever find that with yourself and given that British Open that kind of got airway on you?

JOHN COOK: Not really. I take the British as a great learning experience. I had a great week. I played 71 -- I played 72 good holes and just got beat shooting 12 under in a major championship. I didn't lose shooting 12 under. But I learned a lot of stuff coming down the stretch there, like I did at the PGA. I don't dwell on losses. I have got far more important things to dwell on than a game of golf.

LES UNGER: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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