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July 26, 2008

John Cook


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks, as always, for coming in and joining us. You started the day one behind and you're now one in front taking the lead into the last round of the Senior Open Championship. I take it you're pleased with the day.
JOHN COOK: Very pleased with the day. Got up on the first tee and the wind had switched back a little bit but it wasn't blowing very hard, so this is now another different golf course than we had played Tuesday and Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday. We had to pay attention again today.
It was very pleasing. I played well and hit a lot of quality shots and if I do a couple things differently tomorrow, if we get the same type of day, I'm not sure but we'll see and it's nice to have a chance to win this Senior Open.
SCOTT CROCKETT: There's no way you can plan for tomorrow until you get up and see what it's like.
JOHN COOK: Exactly. We've had three completely different conditions for the five days that we've been here and still learning the golf course. And like I said, I would do things a little bit differently tomorrow if we had the same conditions, but we don't know.
I'm very pleased to be where I'm at. I know there's a lot of tournament winners behind me and some very good players, and that's what you want. Came over here to win this championship and if I do the things that I'm supposed to do and know how to do, we have to be patient and hit quality golf shots tomorrow, and let it fall where it falls.

Q. What would it mean to win tomorrow and would it make up for the disappointment of not winning the Open at Muirfield in 1992?
JOHN COOK: Not that it would redeem, but it would certainly help, anyway. I won 11 times on Tour and that's not bad, it's decent. I did not capture a major unfortunately and I had a few chances I didn't capitalise on, and that part is missing, and I feel incomplete. We were talking the other day, I feel incomplete without having a major. That's how you're judged. That's how you're remembered in this game. This is what we do. Fair or unfair, that's just the way it is, and I understand that.
This would be a very nice win obviously. We play the Champions Tour because a lot of guys have won a lot of tournaments and they know how to close deals. They know how to close championships. So we've got a ways to go before any of that even can cross my mind. It would help in the redemption process of '92, for sure.

Q. Is there anything better about playing in the Senior Open than in regular golf on the Seniors Tour?
JOHN COOK: This is golf over here. I enjoy this. What we play over in the States is a very good quality of golf on the Champions Tour. Anybody that comes out to watch these guys play are going to see guys that have won a lot of tournaments and a lot of majors. So you're not coming out to watch a bunch of scrubs. You're coming out to watch great players who have had great players and can still play and are very competitive.
This is no different. I know the European Seniors over here, they are great champions, as well, and it's nice to have that mix and be over here with the European Seniors is great, but that doesn't take anything away from this championship.
And it is the Senior Open. It's played at Royal Troon this year, an Open Championship golf course, and we are playing the whole golf course with the exception of maybe two tees. Other than that, we are playing exactly how they would be playing The Open Championship. It would feel very much like an Open Championship.

Q. You said yesterday the man who might win this is the man who makes the least mistakes and you have only made four bogeys in 54 holes?
JOHN COOK: Yeah, I'm happy with that. Today, one tactical error on No. 7, and other than that, I've kept the ball in play as much as I could, and I think that's -- you have to go around here without taking drops or hitting anything near the gorse bushes. That's where you start racking up numbers.
Game plan tomorrow is the same. Methodically put your golf ball in the fairway and I don't mind hitting drivers in places a lot of guys don't hit drivers, if I feel that's the right play. So we've got a game plan tomorrow and we'll see what the conditions give us, and that is the big key, you're right, you have to stay away from big numbers.

Q. Would you like the conditions tomorrow to return to those of the first two days which might make it harder for the guys behind to catch up?
JOHN COOK: Oh, boy, I like today. I thought today was a scoring day. I'm very happy with 4-under. I thought some guys could shoot some decent scores. But the golf course is what it is. It defends itself. It doesn't matter really what the conditions are. If we had the conditions tomorrow like we did the first two days, yeah, par is going to be a very good score, and I would take par right now and say thank you very much and if you beat me, you got me, that's fine.
But if we have conditions tomorrow like we did today, and I shot par, I don't think that would have a chance to win, but you don't know. Royal Troon defends itself and we are playing this golf course just like they would play it in The Open Championship. Maybe the greens might be a little quicker, I'm not sure how they would do it, but it's a treat to play, and let the conditions just be what they are.

Q. You've only made four bogeys in total, Bruce made four in a row around the turn - was that the turning point of the round for you?
JOHN COOK: I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention. I know he can make a lot of birdies and he makes a lot of birdies on our tour, the Champions Tour and you have to figure that Bruce is going to make some birdies. I think like everybody else, it's just a matter of being comfortable and kind of adjusting to the conditions that you don't know how things are supposed to go when the conditions are this way.
So I really wasn't paying a lot of attention, but I know that he can make some birdies, and obviously him birdieing the last hole gets him in the last group, as well, and that shows you the fortitude that he has, and he put together a nice round. He started with the lead and shot a couple under par, and you know, that's a good round.

Q. Is this the time of your career that you have been waiting for?
JOHN COOK: Yes. Very much so. I had not played a real schedule since 2002. I got hurt in 2003. I had surgery and missed most of the year; missed most of the year the next year. Took a lot longer to return to form than I thought, and by then, I was really scrambling to try to get my game back in shape. You know, then now you're 46, 47 years old, and you went from thinking that you were competitive, which I was in 2001 and 2002. I had a nice year in 2002, to just trying to make cuts, and that was enough of that.
And just when I'm about ready to wind it down, in 2006, I played very well, and almost made the 125 by playing in 18 tournaments, which isn't very many. Now I'm all refreshed and 49 and going to go play the tour. And last year was a disaster health-wise and I just shut it down completely knowing that October was coming around and I wanted to be ready for that.
So yes I'm very happy playing where I am. I really don't miss the regular tour a whole lot, and a quick funny story last tournament I played on the regular tour, I was paired with two kids that my son played college golf again against and they didn't know whether to call me John or Mr. Cook. I said, you know what, I shot 3-under par and missed the golf course and said you know what, I'm out of here.
It's nice to play and have a schedule, and you're competitive every week. If your game is in decent shape, you feel like you've got a chance to win, then we start the event that week.

Q. How do you feel now with your health, and how do you prepare being in the lead now?
JOHN COOK: My health is good. Last year really was a struggle with the shoulder issue and some respiratory issues that just floored me. I couldn't play at all. And so my health is good, thankfully. And I work at it. Now I'm really working hard with some guys at home and you know, big shout-outs to them.
Good to be anxious and it's good to be nervous and it's good to get going. You want to get the day going, and I'll do very much the same. You know, I'm staying with Mark O'Meara in a house over here and it's nice to have Mark around, and we're good 'ole battle buddies from years and years and years ago, so it's a lot of fun doing that. When we get out here tomorrow, it will be much the same. Just get into the day, go through your routine, check out the wind direction, see what you might need to do on the golf course, and just get to that first tee and get that first one on the way and go.

Q. Tom Watson and Greg Norman are a little bit behind but do you still regard them as a threat?
JOHN COOK: If the golf course plays like it did today, absolutely. They have won many championships between them and they were the best players of their era, and they are still very, very good and very, very competitive.
Once you get to this point, your pride takes over and you want to win. It doesn't matter whose around. You know what you've got to do and I'm sure Greg is looking at the board going, I need to shoot this, and knowing him he can certainly do it, and Tom is the same way.
Just depends on conditions tomorrow. If the golf course plays like it did the first two days, it won't take that much to do that. Then again par would be a good score if it's Thursday and Friday conditions. Par won't get it done tomorrow if the conditions are like today.
SCOTT CROCKETT: John, good luck tomorrow.

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