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April 17, 2011

John Cook


PHIL STAMBAUGH: John, congratulations. And exciting day, the winner of the 2011 Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, your seventh career victory on the Champions Tour, and your 81st start. You join Tom Lehman as a two-time winner on the Champions Tour this year.
Earlier in the year you won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. Multiple events won in a season, fourth time in your career. You end a 106 victory drought in the state of Florida.
JOHN COOK: Didn't know that.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: 255 Charles Schwab Cup points to move into second place in the season-long race. Congratulations. An exciting day. First playoff here since '92. I know you didn't want to make it that exciting.
JOHN COOK: Didn't want that playoff. That shouldn't have happened, but it did. I'm just thankful that I got that opportunity to go back and redeem myself and basically hit the identical same shot that I had the first go-round.
Just goes to show you that no matter what level of golf that you play, you can hit bad shots. There was no rhyme or reason for me to hit that shot. I wasn't looking there, thinking about going there. I just didn't execute.
I executed about 71 and a half other holes. Unfortunately, that last half of a hole I didn't execute. If I had not won in the playoff, it would have been a bitter, bitter disappointment. I've done that before where I haven't finished on the last hole and lost in the playoff. I don't like that. I'm not proud of that. It's no good. It's disappointing.
I try to learn from that, and I thought that I had. At least this one I got a chance at redemption and did go back and capitalize on it. It also end a playoff drought that I had for a while. I used to win all my playoffs, and then I lost a bunch in a row.
So that was a nice one. And on that hole, too. It's not an easy golf hole. It wasn't an easy day. The pins were good. The wind switched. Not a lot of low scores out there.
We just kind of battled. Russ looked like he had it pretty well in hand, and he had a tough time there at 14. That's kind of where I got a little bit of a second wind, you know, maybe I'm not out of this yet.
So I'm happy that I hung around, stuck around and finished it off.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Take us through the round.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, bogeyed No. 2. Actually hit a pretty good shot. Just rolled off the right side of the green in the wrong spot. It should never should have gone that direction. I hit a pitch up there about four feet and missed it.
Had a couple good opportunities here and there. Didn't birdie 7 with hybrid into the green, which was kind of a waste.
I bogeyed 8. I hit a bad drive that cost me.
And then I just kind of got on my horse. I hit two good shots at 9 that kind of settled me down.
I hit two good shots at 10.
I hit a nice shot at 11. Didn't capitalize on any of them.
But starting 12 I felt like I was in pretty good control. I hit a nice drive. I hit a 3-iron that just rolled over the side like everybody else's was. I actually got that up and down. Nice pitch about eight feet and made that.
13, I don't know. I hit a nice 3-wood and sand wedge in there about two and a half feet from the hole and missed it.
Again, just I guess it's being 53. I don't know. I don't where that comes from.
But I came back. I put that out of my mind and hit a good drive the next hole. I hit a nice layup, perfect yardage, nice sand wedge in there about four feet and made that.
Two good quality shots at 15.
16 kind of got trapped with a club.
17 I made a nice par; hit a nice 4-iron in there.
18, bombed a drive down there right in the middle of the fairway. Couldn't have had a better spot, and just miss queued. No excuse, no reason. I did not execute, unfortunately, and had to gather myself.
I knew what I needed to do. I needed to finish out hole. I didn't want this one to slip away. You know, at least give myself another chance. Then 18...
PHIL STAMBAUGH: What did you have club and distance in regulation on 18?
JOHN COOK: I had 174 hole, and I hit 6-iron which was the perfect club just trying to go middle of the green. Just didn't execute.
Then in the playoff, like I said, Tommy Anderson, my caddie, had Mike Sullivan who was driving us down to the 18th tee stop as we got to the forward tee on 18 to get out and walk the rest of the way. He calmed me down big time. Tommy calmed me down. I was still hot, and didn't know what to expect in this playoff.
Tommy said, Okay, J.C., it's hole No. 1. Just refocus. Get back at it. You're playing fine, you're swinging fine. It's hole No. 1. Just refocus.
And we did. I barely even -- I didn't hardly even know where J.D. hit his drive. I wasn't really even paying attention. I just was gathering myself again, and got up there and piped one, just piped one, and hit it further than I did the first time.
The wind had switched back a little bit, and in the playoff I had 168 to the hole. I hit just a nice comfortable little 6-iron. I just wanted to redeem myself. Made about a six-footer for birdie.

Q. You talked about just being hot there after the 18 kind of I guess meltdown. What did he really say to you, your caddie? And did you feel like when you hit it in the water that it was kind of all gone, that that was kind of giving it away to Blake or Cochran?
JOHN COOK: Yeah, I knew that -- I mean, I hit it in the water, but I knew that the tournament wasn't over because Jay Don had finished at 9. But I wasn't even thinking of that. I was thinking when standing in the middle of the fairway, just put the ball in the middle of the green. That's all you got to do. Just make contact and it's going to go there. I didn't make contact.
So Tommy just, he really settled me down. As we walked to greet or to meet Mike Sullivan, the tour official to drive us back, I knew he had something on his mind. He stopped the cart pretty short. That's exactly what he said. He said, Hey, Sully, do you mind stopping right here? I'd like to walk the rest of the way.
I kind of looked back and I went, Cool. Okay. So we did. He didn't get in my ear or anything, he just was walking back there and said, J. C, it's hole No. 1. That's all it is. Let's just hit some quality shots. That's all he said. Just gather yourself and let's go play hole No. 1.
You know, I give him a lot credit for that. He stepped up when he needed to. That's why we've been together four years and we've won seven times and had how many chances, other chances to win. It's because we're a good team.

Q. Talk about how the tournament changed on 14 where you went from being the chaser to being chased.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, not that it was shocking or surprising, because that is golf. That's the way it happens. When I birdied 12 and he didn't, he got a bad break and buried it in the face of the bunker, I thought that maybe, you know, I'm back in this. I'm back in this. Just hang in there. It's a hard golf course. The finishing four holes are going to be tough. I knew that.
But let's just hit some quality shots. I stuffed it at 13 and missed it. But for some reason I said, It's still not over. I'm only two back. I hit a nice drive and laid it up, because I couldn't reach the green. There was no way. So I laid it up and had a perfect, perfect number for me.
I was a little bit surprised that he hit 3-wood. With a two-shot lead, really nowhere to go, I mean, that's a tough pin anyway. I don't know -- I'm sure he's second guessing himself as well. We've all been there and we've all done that. What can I say?
You can never criticize another player for what they're thinking. That's the way things go. That's when I really refocused myself and said, Now it is my tournament. When he started to have some more problems, he just kept hitting it in bad spots, and I hit a nice wedge in there four feet, the tournament was different now. It was mine.
Like you said, you're going from chaser to in the lead. That's different. I had four quality golf holes to play, and I knew I had to hit -- well, seven quality golf shots to finish this out. I hit six. I didn't hit seven, I hit six.

Q. Were you watching the scoreboard? Are you one that does that? Were you watching or playing your own game and you had to attack the course?
JOHN COOK: We talked a little bit about this yesterday. Yes, do I scoreboard watch, especially the last nine. I'm not watching every hole on the front side, but I sure am getting a feel of what the backside is going to be.
I absolutely watch the scoreboard. I don't know how he else you would know what you need to do to win golf tournaments. I don't get the mindset that I don't watch the board. How could you not? If you want to win golf tournaments, you got to know what you got to do. You've got to challenge yourself to step up and finish it off if you have that chance.
Yes, starting at No. 10, yeah, when there were scoreboards that were there and able to -- you know, you were able to check 'em out, yeah, absolutely. I watched the whole backside. Yeah. I knew exactly what was going on.

Q. When is the last time you hit a shot like that iron at 18?
JOHN COOK: Well, I hit a couple in the last couple years on the last holes that they were actually decent shots, but they were -- I ended up making bogeys with 'em. But they weren't bad shots. This one was just a bad shot. It was kind of toe deep. I half chunked it.
If it was 10 yards left it would have been in the middle of the green and would have been fine. It was just a bad shot. I don't hit many of 'em, I know that. I strike the ball pretty solidly most of the time.
Unfortunately that one, I just had too much clutter going on for some reason in my head. I don't know why.

Q. When the ball was launched and it was on its way and you knew immediately what was going on, is that shock or anger? What went through your mind?
JOHN COOK: Yes and yes. Shock and anger, sure. We're not supposed to hit shots like that. It just shows you it can happen. If you're not focused and committed to what you're doing, that can happen. Happens to the best of us. It's happened to everybody. Happened to the best players on the regular tour. It happens to the best Champions Tour players.
It happened to me today. Luckily I had a chance and I got to redeem myself and do it from about the same exact spot that I was before. So I had already put that one away. Now I needed to focus on what do I need to do to hit a good shot? What are my couple swing thoughts? That's what I went through.

Q. What would it mean to you now to do some of the things you didn't do on the regular tour, maybe win a major, player the year, that kind of thing?
JOHN COOK: This is our second chance of being able to do that. And, yes, I had a number of chances to win majors on the regular tour; didn't win. Had a couple good seasons where I was third or fourth or fifth on the Money List, something like that.
So I had nice seasons and won tournaments, but your career is just not complete without major championships. I know these are Champions Tour majors, but they're still majors. These are important events.
So that's the main focus now, is to be competitive every week that I play. I'm committed to this tour and I'm going to play the rest of the tournaments, but it's those majors now that are real going to catch my attention. Not that they didn't before.
This is how I want to end my career. I need some majors on the resume.

Q. Do you work at it as hard as you did on the regular tour? This isn't like retirement or anything for you then?
JOHN COOK: My window is still open. This is not retirement. This is what I do. This is what we've done since we were kids. We've competed since we were 10, 12 years old. I'm not ready to back it down.
I'm committed to playing as many tournaments as I can through at least 55, 56 years old. That's another couple years much, as much as I can play. I'm still healthy. I've got a great support group that help me with that so I can keep that window open as long as I can.
You watch Tom Wargo out here playing, he's 68; Hale, is 64. Those windows are still open as long as you have your health. So far I've been pretty lucky.

Q. When you say that you hit the second 6-iron from almost the same spot, I'm curious, how close those drives were together.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, they were about six yards apart on the same he line. I walked right past the divot from the first one and went, Oh. Wow. No wonder it went in the water. I don't make divots like this very often.
So I walked right by it, looked at it, and I went, Yeah, okay. Now I know. It's not a big shock. But Tommy, again, he just refocused me. We talked it over, said it's pretty much the same shot, J.C. It's 160 at the top of that little ridge, a little back into the wind. It's not a big 6, it's just a nice one. Just make your good golf swing. Commit to it. There it was.
I got it up in the air and it was perfect. The wind was killing it. It was going to come down nice and soft just like the one about 10 minutes earlier should have been. Just like it.

Q. Maybe you already answered this, but you said you put the other one out of your mind. Did you consciously have to do it, or by the time you went from looking at the divot to six feet beyond the memory kind of slipped away?
JOHN COOK: Oh, yeah. As long as that's not the last thing I think about. Which it was. It was the first thing I thought about when you walked by the divot. I go, I was right there not long ago. You can't miss it. The water is right there.
Like I said, it's okay to acknowledge the bad stuff, as long as that's not the last thing you're looking at. If it's just first thought, fine, you refocus and just clear your mind and think of the good -- whatever your swing thoughts are or whatever you do to hit a good shot.
We went through that, and that's what we did.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: John, congratulations.
JOHN COOK: Thank you. Thanks, everybody.

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