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October 30, 2009

John Cook


DAVE SENKO: John, congratulations. Thanks for joining us. 10-under par, 62, which matches your career low. It's also the lowest round in tournament history. We had five players with a 63, so you've moved those down a few spots.
Maybe just get us started and talk about your day. Started strong and finished strong. You had three straight to begin your round, and three straight birdies to finish.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, obviously it was a nice day. I hit the ball really, really well for most part of the day. Good start.
3-wood fairway in the No. 1 and then hit a wedge in there and made a nice little 12-footer. From then on, it was really just pretty solid.
Tell you the truth, I didn't know really how many birdies I had made until I got done. I knew I had made a bunch, but all I kept seeing was Watson making birdies and Blackmar making birdies and everybody else making birdies.
I figured, well, my gosh, okay. It's out there. The course is just perfect. There's really no excuse. The fairways are great, the ball is running, the greens are as good of poana as use you can possibly putt on.
You add those up and have a feel for what you're doing during the week, and you can shoot some scores. So I guess the game plan is to try to - I use the term "disremember" -- and just forget about what I just did and try to repeat, or just go out there this weekend and just hit quality shots and put the ball in the right spot.
I've done that for two days, and need to do it for two more. Because there's Tom Watson there, Phil Blackmar there. I mean, there's guys -- Langer played good today. There's hundreds of champions. You know, hundreds of winners out there that chase you and who you chase every single week. There's no backing down.
DAVE SENKO: Just taking a look real quick here at your stats, looks like obviously the putter was working today. 23 putts, and it looks like a dozen 12/1 putts.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, I gave myself a lot of chances. Actually a couple of these numbers are wrong. I've actually only missed three greens total, and I've given myself just a lot of chances. Not long ones. I mean, I've made a couple nice putts, but I've made a couple -- I've hit it in there close a couple times and hit a couple par-5s in two and given myself some chances.
So, yeah, it's always nice when you have 23 putts, but it also goes well when you hit 16 greens and have 23 putts. I mean that's a -- I like that stat. The GIR plus the Putts Per Green, that's good.
DAVE SENKO: Questions.

Q. Being able to forget what you did in the last rounds, that is not easy to do in golf. Everybody knows that. Has it been easy for you, or is it something that you have trouble with?
JOHN COOK: Not really. It is difficult to follow up. It just is. I've made some nice putts, my speed was good, and I had the ball in the right spot. Really, with the exception of maybe one or two shots, I had perfect numbers. It just was a day that just fit.
Everybody knows it that has played this game. There are days where you can hit the ball just as well, but you don't have the right numbers. You just have -- everything is a little bit off. You know, the ball that's in the right side of the fairway is now in the first cut of the rough.
There are so many little things that happen. Not to say that it will, but it could. I think that's what's so difficult about following it up. Because unlike other sports, we take this along with us. This is only part of what we're doing for the week. Game to game, you can forget. It's just a new game. But this is part of it.
So like I said, game plan tomorrow is just keep hitting quality golf shots. That's what I've done that for two days, and actually for the last six, eight weeks, is hit a lot of quality shots and given myself a lot of opportunities.
Out here, I think the weather is supposed to stay. If that happens, the scores are gonna be pretty low.

Q. John, where does that round rank with the other great ones you've had for the year?
JOHN COOK: It's really high obviously. It's a Friday, so it's the middle part of the week. 62, 62, I shot 62 to win -- or 63 to win at the Bob Hope one year. That was a pretty good round, I must say.
I've played some pretty good rounds, but this one right here, with no bogeys and no mistakes, really just a -- you know, one poor shot. Kind of a double cross there at 16 that didn't really cost me. Ended up making birdie anyway.
Other than that, I'm very happy. Like I said, I knew I had made a lot of birdies. I didn't really know how until I started counting upping my little circles on my scorecard. I went, Wait a minute. There's six in the front and four on the back. Yeah, that's ten, that's a lot. So it was good, yeah.

Q. Were you surprised?
JOHN COOK: Happy surprise, yeah.

Q. A year ago you sat in here with a towel around your neck and said it was probably some of the worst weather you ever played in. Is this some of the best?
JOHN COOK: No question. Just the quality of the weather -- really we were out there going, This is like a Bob-Hope-Desert-Classic day. It just start out cool in the morning, the sun comes up and it gets to the mid-70s. Just very little wind, if anything blowing at all, just to kind of keep your attention. And the ball was traveling. It just does.
This is really like playing in a dome today. Just like playing in the desert. The golf course is perfect and the weather is great. You know, I'm sorry we're gonna be leaving here. This is kind of nice. (Laughter.)
Leaving Oak Hills and now we're leaving here. Oh, my God. Where are we going?

Q. The fact that you spent a lot of time playing down in southern California on the coast there, does that come into play here?
JOHN COOK: No question. This is what I grew up on. Rolling Hills Country Club is all seaside poana. And down in Orange County where I play now, both El Miguel, Big Canyon, same.
And not that there's a special way you have to putt them but, you have to be comfortable. A lot people aren't comfortable on it. When the greens a firm like this and rolling at a good speed, they're great to putt on.
It's when they're wet and soft and they get a little bouncy and they get grumpy and you get grumpy and it's a bad combination. These are as good as it gets, as fine of greens as you can putt on.

Q. Do you remember the first time that you were paired with Tom on the regular tour?
JOHN COOK: I know I played some practice rounds with him. Not like every week, but I played a lot. I would try to maybe sneak in his group if we were playing a practice round. Our connection, he and Byron and Byron and Kenny and me and Kenny, we kind of have a little connection there.
I remember, I think one of first times I played with him in a tournament, like Sunday, was in San Diego in '83 the year Gary Hallberg won. We were both playing really well as well.
It was just enjoyable. I love watching him go about his business. No BS, he just gets up and hits it. I've played with him twice in the last couple months, and same. I enjoy playing with him. He's a Hall of Famer for a reason. He's won all these majors for a reason.
You can only learn by observing. I tried to observe Tom Watson as much as I could on the regular tour and in my first few years. There's no question I learned as much from him as I did anybody as far as a player goes.
It's always a joy. Like he said, it's gonna be a shootout. We look forward to it. Any time you're paired with Tom Watson, you must be doing something right.

Q. In those early encounters, did you ever have the nerve to ask him specific questions or did he ever give you any advice?
JOHN COOK: I was always just a good observer. I really was. Growing up learning from Ken Venturi, I just learned to listen and watch. You know, who was I to ask some stupid question? I just was soaking stuff in. That's what I would do with Tom.
You know, a lot of what you -- you know, how you go about your game and your business is by who you try to emulate or you've learned from. I've learned from Ken Venturi who learned from Hogan and Nelson, and Tom learned from whoever early, and then learn from Byron. You know, enough said, I think.
So just I really have learned from observation more than anything else.

Q. We kind of got Tom's feeling on this runner-up at the Open Championship this year. What was the feeling amongst you guys, the peers out there?
JOHN COOK: I think we were just along for that same ride everybody was. The great thing is he hit quality shot after quality shot right down the stretch to the last hole. He literally was six inches from being the Open champion. His ball stays on the green instead of just rolls over, and he's the winner. You go, Oh, my God. That's how -- you know, that's how this game is.
I think -- not that we're old, in our 50s because we still have our health and we're still going and competing, and I don't feel -- I might be 52. I sure don't feel it. I think what he did is gave a lot of people hope, you know, that you can do things.
If you've got your health in your later years, you can -- because you got so much experience and you understand what goes on, you know, and then watching that just all day, I really was -- you know you were you were when Jack made that putt at 17 at the Masters. I think you know where you were when Tom had a chance to win the Open championship at 60 years old.
You know, I know I was watching over there watching getting ready for the Senior British. I was up and down and nervous and I just living and dying on every shot, just like everybody less. And I love Stewart Cink to death, but that was -- wow, what an accomplishment that would have been. Wow, what a story.

Q. You play with Tom tomorrow. He'll obviously be the crowd favorite. How will that affect your game, if anything?
JOHN COOK: No, not at all. We've done this so long. Like I said, any time you're playing with Tom, you probably are doing something right. I've done a lot right and I've played a lot with Tom in the last -- I was paired with him at Baltimore when he had the lead there on Sunday, and I played a couple weeks earlier.
So, yeah, absolutely. He's a crowd favorite. That's fine. He's a Hall of Famer. He should be. I love it.

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