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August 2, 2008

John Cook



RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to welcome John Cook to the interview room, 6-under par for the championship. You tied the Senior Open record for the lowest nine-hole score with a 30 on the back nine this afternoon.

66 on Thursday and 66 today, which was the better round for you.

JOHN COOK: Today was a battle, and Thursday was pretty good. I'd say that they were fairly equal. I battled back from a double-bogey today. A 30 on the back side is always a good way to finish, pretty happy with that.

But this golf course is good with the variable conditions today, the wind was blowing from I don't know how many directions it can blow but it blew from every direction I can think of. It was a battle out there, it really was. It was a great test of golf. I think they got it right today. The greens were maybe just a scoach slower and maybe a little bit softer, a lot more playable than they were yesterday afternoon, so I'm very happy with the 66.

RAND JERRIS: Can you go through your birdies and bogeys?

JOHN COOK: I birdied No. 1. I hit a driver and a 9-iron about two feet behind the hole. Fastest two-footer I've ever seen in my life, made that.

Made some pars. Made a nice up-and-down on No. 4, the par 3. I made about an 8-footer for par. I double-bogeyed 6. I hit a decent drive but got caught up in the rough and it was on the side of a little ridge and I had to stand on one side of the ridge and the ball was on the other side of the ridge and I couldn't do anything with it.

So I tried to chip it down the fairway and hit it too flush and it went through into the rough just short of the bunker. I took a full swing with a sand wedge and barely got it over the bunker and found an even worse lie than it was in before and hit a pretty good shot to five feet and made double.

Came right back and made some nice swings. Birdied No. 9. Hit a 3-wood and a hybrid club 20 feet from the hole, 2-putted.

Made an 8-footer for par on 10, which was the key of the day.

Then I hit a real nice 5-iron on No. 12 about three feet left of the hole.

14, I hit a drive and a 9-iron about 12 feet just short of the hole. Made about a 12-footer.

Birdied 16. Hit a nice 8-iron about ten feet left of the hole.

18, I hit a 3-wood and 8-iron about four feet right of the hole.

Hit some good shots on the back side and in some good spots. Yesterday it was difficult to hit it in good spots. You're so content hitting a shot on to the green that you left yourself with nearly impossible putts. Today I felt like I put the ball in the right spots.

Actually I was pretty pleased with 72 yesterday afternoon. I thought that was pretty good. I was tickled. Yesterday was a battle. (Chuckling).

Today was just more of -- I kind of battled back from the double-bogey at 6 but other than that I played very, very well.

RAND JERRIS: Can you talk about the eight footer on 10?

JOHN COOK: I tagged a drive, but I hit it too far and it went through the fairway, but it was way, way down there. I only had wedge into the green but I had no shot from the rough and it kind of hit short of the green and skipped up through and went over the green. I got kind of fooled on the pitch. I hit a pretty good pitch shot speed-wise, but I left it to the right about eight feet or so.

Now I hit a downhill putt, downwind, down mountain, away from the bell, all of the whistles were blowing, and I poured it right in the middle, and I went, okay. That was a great save, one of my better saves, and I hit quality shots every hole coming in. I struck it very well coming in.

Q. Can you talk about how difficult the back nine is, not just today but all week, and how you were able to play it 4-under, picking up a lot of ground real quick, and what was your mind-set when you made the turn looking at the leaderboard?

JOHN COOK: I really didn't have much of a mind-set, other than the back side is going to be tough. The front side was tough. And I just tried to hit a quality shot each time and not worry about anything else that's going on, because there's so much going on out there, you have to pay so much attention to what you're doing with the altitude, and the wind blowing and the elevation change and you're going uphill, downhill, you know, I really wanted to stay committed to what I was doing right then and there. I wasn't worried about anything else and I was aware of what hole was next.

I think that that game plan has helped. I'm not projecting out on what I can do. I'm just really focused and committed to what I'm doing right then and there. That's been a big key of playing that back side, because you have to bring some quality golf, or otherwise, it will get you. You can put it in places on that back side that you can shoot a big score, too.

So I've played the back side fairly well, and I actually put the ball in decent spots and just kind of taking what the course gives me.

Q. The difference between yesterday and today, you said yesterday was just unbearably hard and almost over the edge; today, was the difference moisture in the ground or pin placements?

JOHN COOK: I think moisture in the ground. The pins were very, very good again today, but I think that they got it right. I don't know if they do anything, but I know that the greens were more receptive, and they didn't play quite as fast, and that helped in keeping the golf course in front of you.

Yesterday, it was close from getting away, and when the wind blow it is gets dry, and in these conditions you're going to have that, but overnight they did a nice job. There were some nice scores today but again, you had to put the ball in the right spot.

So the real difference was I think there was a little more moisture on the greens, and maybe just a step maybe slower, not that it's any easier, but you've got to putt the ball in the right spot. But the pins were very, very difficult, again. But they were a little more receptive.

Q. Were you aware that Freddie and Eduardo were looking like they were going to run away with it for a while?

JOHN COOK: Yeah, I like to know where I stand all the time, and you have to know. Not that it matters much on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, but it certainly does on Sunday. You have to know where you are. If you want a chance to win, you've got to know, and it's a great test, and to know where you are and what you have to do and not how you have to perform better.

So I was watching a little bit and I know that they have got to 9- and 10-under pretty quick, and I thought, wow, what am I doing down here at two, just hanging on. But there was nobody else, so I was okay with that, and that's when my mind would click back in and just hit a good golf shot here.

Tommy Anderson, my caddie, we were working well with the conversions and doing it quickly, which I like to play fast, playing with Juan Quiros today, he plays really quick, too, so it was fun. It was good. If I keep that nice pace again tomorrow, I think it settles into a nice day.

Q. With your success on the back nine this week, going into tomorrow the next to last group, does this give you confidence that you can go out and attack some of the holes, post a score?

JOHN COOK: Yeah, a lot of that is true. I don't think that you can attack. This golf course is not the attacking type. You have to hit quality shots.

Posting a score may mean posting even par; you don't know what the conditions are. We'll have to wait and see what tomorrow brings us. If tomorrow is like yesterday, even par is going to be a very good score tomorrow.

If the conditions are more like today or this afternoon where the wind kind of lied down just a little bit, and the golf course maintains it's moisture, you're going to have to be a little bit more aggressive than just putting the ball in the middle of the green.

I'm confident on the back side. It sets up well for me. We've hit some quality shots, so I'll draw on that experience tomorrow. The thing is you have to get there to be able to use it. Experience doesn't do you much unless you get there and have a chance to use it.

So hopefully we'll start out tomorrow and get yourself going into the round and see where it is and if you have to make adjustments on the back side to win, that's what you do, and if you need to start being a little bit more aggressive, get a chance to win, yeah, that's the game plan change. But until that happens, I'll just keep plugging along.

Q. Any advantage to not playing in the final group?

JOHN COOK: Yes and no. I've won in the final group and lost in the final group and I've won from the next group or even two groups ahead. Last week, I was the one being chased for 36 holes, and after about 35 holes last week, I was the one being chased. Tomorrow, I'm the one that gets to sneak up, or as we say, chip away at the lead.

Eduardo, he played very well last week as well and he plays this type of golf well. He has some serious length, and a lot of these holes, he's hitting some short clubs into, so like we just said, if you can post a score, and depending on the conditions, even par might be good enough, if the conditions are rough, like yesterday.

But if the conditions are fairly tame, a postable score might mean shooting 3-, 4-, 5-under and try to get to double figures, and I think right now with Eduardo at 9-under, you have to be looking into double figures to have a chance to win.

Q. You played well here in college and you played well at Castle Pines, can you draw anything from any of those places about being around this place?

JOHN COOK: Sure. I've played well in Reno. I like altitude. I don't mind the dryness. I wasn't a math major in college but I was very good at math and converting and conversions and numbers and just kind of overall feeling of numbers. I get a good feeling on the altitude and the percentages and so I feel comfortable with that. A lot of these golf courses that we have played, or used to play, favor such long hitters, where this one -- when the altitude is the way it is, you know, you get the ball in the air, the ball goes.

So I feel comfortable at altitude. I felt comfortable at Denver. I felt comfortable here during the Broadmoor Invitational, they kept us out of the Golden Bee and we made our tee times and made our tee times here, and Reno, I had a good run at Reno the five or six times I played. I like altitude and I think Fred does too. We like to be long, finally. Nice to hit those drives 300 yards (laughter).

Q. It's real important here to be on the right side of the pin or right section of the green; have you done a pretty good job of that this week?

JOHN COOK: I did a good job Thursday and I did a good job yesterday. Yesterday was nearly impossible to do that; the conditions were so difficult, that you had to make sure that you hit enough club to get it up to where you needed to be, but the greens were so firm, and the wind was blowing so hard, that you're just trying to hit a good golf shot.

So yesterday, you just kind of took what you got. Today, I put the ball in the right spots most of the time, and I made a couple nice putts. So, yes, in a perfect world, you'd like to be underneath the hole putting straight up at it, but this golf course defends itself. It's hard to do that and it's not knowing -- a lot of the greens, you're either going uphill or downhill so you don't really know exactly where the pin exactly is. So you don't know really what's right or left. You have diagrams, but you're not really sure.

So if you can keep it in the right sections of these greens, you can do a pretty good job.

Q. This number juggling at altitude, can you be more precise and is this more complicated than simply a percentage?

JOHN COOK: It's a percentage and a feel I think. You have to go by a number to start with, and you have your number and I go right now by ten percent, and then I adjust just kind of the way I feel and the way -- the club that I'm going to hit, if the ball is going to get in the air, the ball will go.

But if you don't get the ball in the air, it almost falls out of the sky. So you have to make sure that you've got to get the ball up in the air. Trying to hit little shots, little three-quarter shots is very difficult when it's at altitude because you're not swinging hard enough and spinning the ball enough. So I'm pretty much going full with every swing, and that way I know exactly how far the ball is going to go.

It's not rocket science by any means, but it's definitely a ten percent and then a little bit of a feel for me as far as the wind goes. But it's worked for me every place that I've been in altitude.

RAND JERRIS: John, thank you for your time and we wish you lots of luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts

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