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July 31, 2008

John Cook



JOHN COOK: I didn't like the way it finished last week at all. Second is not good.

This week, had a nice practice round, and once I decided that this week has started now and it's a different week, different tournament, another major championship, you know, I can put that last week behind me until I get home next week.

So had a great practice round day with Greg and Mark O'Meara and they were nothing but supportive, and Greg and I kind of -- I mean, his was the Open Championship, mine was the Senior Open Championship, but still, when you have it in your grasp like that, you have something a little bit in common.

So it was a nice walk on Tuesday with these guys, and I got up and struck the ball nicely. I said, okay, new week, let's just go at it again.

Q. Did you talk about it?

JOHN COOK: Yeah, we talked a little about it. We talked about his finish and my finish, and it was hard golf courses under hard conditions. You can't protect and you have to keep playing golf. I hit some quality shots on Sunday, I did, and I didn't get a lot out of it. I hit two bad shots, and other than that, I played pretty well. I kept telling myself that, and I didn't really miss shots. The same good things didn't happen.

And Greg was kind of the same way. It just was a hard golf course that he played the week before and I played last week. So like we both said, you've got to move on. It was a great experience, great week, would loved to have capped it off, but we can cap it off this week.

Q. Is that one of the attributes of being a professional golfer, that you have to have a short memory span and that you have to come back and start fresh?

JOHN COOK: Definitely, and being I guess we're -- I don't know what kind of veterans we are, crafty, crusty, whatever could be --

Q. Both.

JOHN COOK: Yeah, both. Yeah, it still hurts. There's no doubt, it has to. That's what we are out here to do; we are out here to win.

When you have championships within your grasp, and they kind of slip through, it hurts a little bit. You try to figure out what the heck happened, and so the next time you're better prepared for it.

You know, I've played all year, but I haven't played a lot of tournament golf since 2002, and I certainly have not had a 54-hole lead in a long, long time. So I was a little anxious out there playing, but I played very well. It wasn't like I was giving it away. It's just I had a chance to win, and I think that goes along with what you said; that we've been at this for a long, long time, and when you have majors back-to-back, you've got to have a real short memory.

Q. Have the fans been supportive? Have you heard from fans?

JOHN COOK: Yeah, fans have been great. Yeah, they understand. Golf fans are a different than a lot of other fans. They can sympathize because they play the game. They know we are trying our heart out. It wasn't like we were giving up. It wasn't like I was trying to give it away. And they all know that.

I think that they understand that this is such an individual game, and you're so exposed out there that there's nothing to hide from; especially over in Scotland when there's no trees, there's certainly nowhere to hide, except in that gorse stuff.

Q. How tough has it been this years are threatening to win so often?

JOHN COOK: I've only played maybe two or three tournaments where I had a chance to really win. I've had a lot of Top-10, and I'm proud of that. That's kind of been my career. I've had a lot of Top-10s in my career. There's only been a couple of times, Austin was one, where I thought down the stretch I really had a chance to win; and Valencia, earlier in the year, I had a good chance to win; and last week, where I really felt like if I did the right things the last six or seven holes. I could have won all three of those tournaments, and that part is frustrating. But those are the only three that I've really had a chance to win.

So I appreciate the opportunity to just be out playing again. I haven't played a full schedule since 2002, and it's just nice getting back into having a schedule and knowing where I'm going to be and know I've got weeks off and keep working at it. The window's not very big on this tour, so you've got to take advantage of all your opportunities, and then you look for Gil Morgan and Hale Irwin for inspiration; that we know maybe we can play this game into our 60s.

Q. As you were approaching 50, were you looking ahead in great anticipation of joining the Champions Tour?

JOHN COOK: Yes. Emphatically, yes.

I only relate it to the last TOUR event I played in. I played good in '06 and I almost made the Top 125, and I only played 18 events. I know that I can still play a little bit. I was sick and I was hurt last year, and it was just a disaster health-wise.

I just basically shut it down but the last event I played, I think was at Turning Stone, and I shot 3-under par on a 7,500-yard golf course. I missed the cut and I played with two guys, two kids, that my son played junior golf and college golf against.

I said, you know what, it's time to move on. It just is time. This is a sign right here. So I've looked forward to it last year like it was -- it was a little depressing, how hard I worked and I just couldn't do it anymore. My shoulder went out and my health got bad and it just was a wreck.

Then you have your friends counting down how many months, weeks, days, hours, until you turn 50, so I never heard the end of it. But my friends were great and they got me ready. They are all really good players, and I just played a lot of golf to get ready.

Q. How good was your ball-striking today?

JOHN COOK: I played very well. A USGA Championship, there's no mystery to what you have to do and that's put the ball in play, and I don't think I missed a fairway. I struck the ball nicely. I only missed one iron shot. Didn't take advantage of No. 9, kind of a quirky little hole. A couple awkward things happened.

But I'm pretty happy with that. I made a couple very nice par putts, which you have to do. And I put the ball in play. I kept it underneath the hole for the most part. I had decent speed on the greens and I drove the ball in the fairway, which allowed me to hit a lot of greens. So 66 is very satisfying.

Q. Greg was saying he thought the course was a little inconsistent on the greens?

JOHN COOK: Could have been. I didn't really notice that. </ p>

You know, the greens are a little bit different, across the street and down below, they are different. But that's an adjustment you have to make. If you hit quality shots and you're happy with the way you strike the ball, you know, there's not much else you can do; go hit it again until it's in the hole.

Q. How has it been with club selections?

JOHN COOK: Thank God I could add and subtract as a kid. I couldn't read, but I was pretty good at math. I enjoyed all the math stuff, I actually should have been a math major in college, but it doesn't bother me. I adjust to it and I have a good feel for the conditions. I've played here before.

Q. A lot of people were talking about the course plays differently in the morning and the afternoon. You've played practice rounds and a real round today; did you see some of that?

JOHN COOK: Yeah, the way the altitude works is in the morning, the ball travels not like sea level, but it not quite, you know, what you're figuring.

So you can go ahead and -- once it warms up and the sun comes out, and you actually put the ball in the air, the ball will go. It goes a long way. So you have to kind of adjust through the day. And once the sun comes up and it warms up, you know, that ball starts to compress and it can go a long way.

But that's an adjustment that you have to make. That's part of what makes, what, made the international and what makes this a challenge, is not only do you have to strike good golf shots but you have to adjust to the changing conditions daily.

You know, the wind is variable. It's not really coming out of a discretion and you can't really anticipate what the next hole is going to do because you don't know until you get there.

So they throw that little question mark in your mind as you go along.

Q. Do you expect to get a phone call or text from your buddy, Tiger, tonight?

JOHN COOK: Yeah, probably. We had a good chat the other day, so he was very supportive.

Q. Did you have a pep talk?

JOHN COOK: Pretty much, yeah.

Q. When was that?

JOHN COOK: Monday.

Q. Can you go through the birdies and bogeys on your card?

JOHN COOK: I started on No. 10, hit a drive and a 6-iron six inches, nice way to start the week.

Routine pars, I made about -- I birdied 13 I guess. I hit a drive and a 6-iron again about 25 feet and made that.

I made a good par at 15. I hit a nice 3-wood and I hit an 8-iron that hit up on the green and came back all the way down the hill and pitched up about eight feet and made that.

I bogeyed 17. I hit a nice drive and pulled a 5-iron in the bunker.

3, hit a nice drive and laid up and hit a nice little sand wedge in there about 12 feet down the hill and made that.

Made a nice 2-putt at No. 4. Made about a 6-footer for my second putt. I had it short; putting up the hill, it was unbelievably slow.

Then I had a nice little run. I birdied 6. I hit a drive and a gap wedge that hit the flag, and hit the flag and bounced after the green and I pitched in from -- it was a short pitch. It was probably 18-foot pitch. So I got a little redemption there.

I was just in the first cut.

7 I hit a nice drive and pitching wedge to five feet.

And I hit a nice little putt, down the hill breaker.

Then I hit a 3-wood short, bounced in the bunker, really awkward lie and almost pulled it off and it just hit up on top and kind of came back down and I made a nice up-and-down. Made about a 2-footer for a par.

So a couple nice par saves and a couple nice birdies, maybe left a couple chances out, but overall, very happy.

End of FastScripts

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