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October 31, 2009

John Cook


DAVE SENKO: John, thank you for joining us. Just a couple of announcements for the media here. John's six-shot lead is the largest in a Champions Tour event since Jay Haas had a six-shot lead here four years ago. And his 54-hole total of 197 matches the all-time Champions Tour 54-hole record in a four-round event by fellow Ohio State University product, Jack Nicklaus.
John, with that, if you could share your thoughts on your day.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, thanks. Just a nice day, you know, walking around. Beautiful weather again. Not quite as efficient as yesterday obviously, but that's okay. I hit a lot of quality shots.
Playing with Tom and playing in a similar pace, similar demeanor, you know, like I said yesterday, he's been a mentor to me and I've looked up to him from my earlier years on tour. I played quite a bit with him in the last couple months since his British Open.
You know, he's easy -- I mean, he's a Hall of Famer, so I'm not gonna say he's easy to play with, but he's comfortable to play with. But we got going. I enjoyed the day obviously.
Made a nice par at the last. I think it was a big key for me. Other than that, I just drove the ball nicely and hit it with some pace and hit a lot greens again. Just kind of did everything okay, so I'm quite pleased.
Tough to follow a 62, but to follow with a 67, I guess that's all right. I'll take that.
DAVE SENKO: Your birdies, give us shots on No. 2.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, I made a nice par at No. 1. I kind of fluttered up an 8-iron in the wind and got it up-and-down from the bunker.
Then 2 I hit a real nice drive and 3-wood right on the front of the green. Putted it down there. Two-putt from probably 25 feet.
Made a nice birdie at No. 4. Hit a 3-iron in there about eight feet. Let's see, moved it around and hit two good shots at 8. Hit driver, 3-wood right in front of the green and pitched up a couple feet.
Bogey at 12. Just kind of pulled a drive. Hit it good, but just in the left rough. Kind of misjudged the lie a little bit. Left it short of the green there, which was not a good spot. Didn't hit a very good pitch or putt. It added up to 5. You know, no excuses there.
But came right back and hit a good drive and a 3-wood at 13 right in the middle of the green and 2-putted.
Nice par 14 from the left bunker. Made about a six-footer, and came right back and hit a really nice 7-iron at 15 about 12 feet and made that.
Good drive and a 3-wood at 16 right in the middle of the green and two-putted from about 30 feet.
Then froze one up against the lip of the bunker on 18 and pitched out and hit a wedge about eight feet and made it. Nice way to finish, like I said. I think was a big putt. Just for my psyche and my confidence, I think that was a good way to end it.
DAVE SENKO: Questions.

Q. You've kind of owned the par-5s this week. Did you feel coming in that that would be key?
JOHN COOK: Yeah, I remembered from last year that the 5s last year just weren't reachable at all. It just was so wet and the weather wasn't very good. This year, I seemed to have -- you know, I've driven the ball well. I'm not doing anything different, I'm just getting up and go ahead and making aggressive swings and driving the ball in the fairway and driving it down there with a little bit of length.
You know, it's just allowing me to go at these 5s. I love conditions that are firm and fast. I grew up in that and played in the desert all those years. You know, when the ball is running like this is, you know, I can go ahead and make aggressive swings. If the ball is in the fairway, I -- you know, I think that I've found a 3-wood after many, many years of searching, and this one is a pretty good one.
I feel like there's a lot of 5s that I can get to or at least close to from 250 or whatever it is to the front of the green. I think I can get it close to that. I've had success on the 5s this week, and, you know, have to be efficient like that again tomorrow.

Q. What are the particulars on that 3-wood?
JOHN COOK: It's just sometimes you just get one, you know. Sometimes you get a hot one and it just fits. The shaft and the head, the loft is just right. You look down at it and it looks like I can hit it and looks like I can get it up in the air.

Q. What's your maxed out yardage on that?
JOHN COOK: Well, I think flying it in the air I can now get it 240, 245, which for me, I could never even come close to that. This combination, whatever it is, I think I'm comfortable with that.
If the ball is running and there's nothing in front of the green, I can go ahead and pop one up there. If it catch a good bounce, it'll scoot up there.
So like 13 I had -- or what -- 16 I had 240 to the front and 272 to the pin. Ball flew up in front of the green and chased on back there. I'd a never had that shot. I don't think I've ever had that shot, to tell you the truth. I kind of like that.

Q. Is it a Nike model?
JOHN COOK: I'm allowed two. I'm allowed two others, and it's one of the others.

Q. When did you get it, whatever it is?
JOHN COOK: I got it at Hickory and put it in the bag I think the next week, and then I've used it since and hit some nice shots with it. Hey, we'll try to get it right this winter with a Nike 3-wood. But for now, I have that two-club thing, and this is one of 'em.

Q. So often it's obvious to us and so often mentioned on TV how your swing looks so simple. Can you talk about how it came to be that way and what your keys are?
JOHN COOK: Well, I learned from Venturi. He was nothing but fundamentals growing up. We talked nothing about anything else but fundamentals. And through the years, for almost 40 years of working with him - and I haven't in a couple years, but we still talk quite a bit - his massage was always the same. It never changed from the first day I saw him when I was 14 to the last time I saw him, which was just a couple weeks or months ago in Newport.
I think that has been such a key, is I haven't tried to change anything. I've gotten better at things and I've gotten more flexible just by doing things that I'm doing. But basically, right from the getgo -- he learned from Hogan and Nelson, and they were very simple.
His message to me was always the same: Good fundamentals. Back and shoulders turn and everything else stays put. Go ahead and turn through it and hit it and don't be afraid to hit it, especially when you get under the gun. Your body is used to working like that. Go ahead and trust it.
You know, the only time I get in trouble is when I don't turn my back and my shoulders and I lift my arms. You know, it's pretty simple. I know that. So there's not a lot of -- I'm not out there searching. Sometimes your body won't cooperate and just won't do it.
But for the most part it's been -- I have simple thoughts. It might look simple, and I have simple thoughts. They've been simple since I was 14. I've been very, very lucky in my life to have someone like Ken Venturi as my guy, my go-to guy.
You know, I'm not that smart a guy anyway, so I can't -- you know, planes and positions, you know, I'm just not like that. (Laughter.) I'm a one-level guy. I can maybe get sublevel just a little bit, but I'm one level.

Q. We had Marco on, and he talked about how sometimes you're hard on yourself. Talk about both sides of John Cook.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, it's just a competitiveness in me. I've had it since I was young. I played football, basketball. I raced motorcycles and happened to fall into golf. So I'm just that guy playing golf. That's just the way I am.
I'm a son of an old football coach. I'm gonna get hard on myself, yeah. If I'm not doing the right things, I will. I don't have any problems screaming at myself to get you back into that mode. Yeah, I'm competitive and I don't like to give things away and make dumb mistakes.
I don't like -- as much as I would like to keep it in, sometimes it slips out.

Q. What about the flip side, when you get in the slot and you...
JOHN COOK: It's a matter of trust. It's a trust thing. It's a thing, again, going way, way back, is, you know, Venturi and I worked on specific things. He said to never be afraid to shoot low. And how you do it, those are things that he and I have talked about.
You just can't be afraid out there. A lot of times you gotta play like your pants are on fire, just keep going and keep trying to outrun it.
Tomorrow just have to kind of do the same thing: just stay aggressive and make aggressive swings and make aggressive decisions. If I have to change game plans later on, I'll do it.
In the meantime, you know, there's some scores to be shot out there. I'm not gonna look over my shoulder, because there's guys that have won hundreds and golf tournaments that are right there.

Q. On 18, were you trying to clear the bunker? When you walked off after, is that as good a feeling as you've had?
JOHN COOK: You know, it's an awkward tee shot for me, because, you know -- I just tattooed that drive, too. I mean, that ball, it was really five feet from being way, way down there, but it's probably not the right line to take.
I'm remembering last year on how long that hole played and banging drivers and can't even get to the bunker. Now I'm just not quite sure -- it's probably a 3-wood shot and whatever happens tomorrow I'll probably hit a 3-wood off that tee, because Tom hit a hybrid and an 8-iron.
I could probably hit a -wood and a - or -iron myself. It's an awkward looking tee shot. It kind of squeezes in. I wasn't trying to go over the bunker. I was trying to just miss it to the left. But if I hit it too good, I'll hit it in that far bunker, and that's no good.
We have to refigure that hole. Gotta go to Plan B on No. 18. But, yeah, coming off 18, yeah, that was a -- I felt good about that. I wanted to make that putt bad. The harder you want things, the more relaxed you kind of have to be. I was pretty relaxed over that putt.

Q. How close were you to where you were yesterday on 18?
JOHN COOK: Well, it was within a couple feet, but I was, yeah, right up against the lip and had no shot. It was a chip out all the way. As much as you hate to do that and your ego just won't let you, but smarter.

Q. (Question regarding Jon Gruden.)
JOHN COOK: I guess we look alike sometimes. (Laughter.) Sometimes I can do that.

Q. You watch him on Monday Night Football?
JOHN COOK: I think he does a great job. I think he's informative, kind of got that coach thing going. I like him. I would like to see him at Ohio State, myself. I think he would be a good fit.
I like Jim Tressel. Jon Gruden is a Youngstown guy. Hey, never know. Buckeyesforgruden.com. (Laughter) Sorry, coach. Coach Tressel, he's a wonderful guy, so I'm not saying anything.

Q. You just did.
JOHN COOK: Well, I'm gonna get in trouble. That's okay.

Q. (No microphone.)
JOHN COOK: I do. It's been in my blood since I was a kid with my dad and him going there and coaching there.
Yeah, yeah. He was an offensive line coach. Graduate assistant under -- actually Bo was his coach. He was the offensive line coach. My dad was one of his graduate assistants., '63, '64, somewhere in there.
Yeah, if I didn't, I would be in trouble. I did have a daughter go SC, though, so that was tough. Tough writing a check to Southern Cal, you know. (Laughter.) It's a big one, too. But, you know, what are you gonna do? Yeah, we bleed scarlet and gray.

Q. Do you miss it at all when it was you and Marco and Tiger and, you know, playing golf all the time?
JOHN COOK: We do miss that. You know, Mark's relocated to Houston and I'm California/Orlando. But playing a lot. I play way more than Tiger does, so we're really never -- haven't spent that much time together in a couple years.
It's good quality time when we do, but, you know, we talk a lot. Yeah, do I miss those days. We had a nice group. We all learned a lot from each other. I think I learned a lot from the two of them, and Tiger, like we've always talked about, he's never been afraid to ask questions about things. You know, even to this day, as great as he is, he wants to continue the learn.
Yeah, we miss those days just kind of hanging on the back of the range and shooting it. Hey, let's go play a few more holes. Emergency 9. Let's go play for lunch or we go in and shoot baskets.

Q. Have you heard from Tiger?
JOHN COOK: No, I think he must be gone already. I think he's on the on his way to China. I think he might've had to go early.

Q. (No microphone.)
JOHN COOK: Not yet. I'll check when I get in.

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