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May 25, 2011

John Cook


KELLY ELBIN: John Cook with us at the 72nd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. This will be John's fourth consecutive Senior PGA Championship. Best finish was a tie for 16 in the 2008. John, two wins on the Champions Tour this year, third on the Money List, I would imagine your game is in pretty good shape heading into Valhalla.
JOHN COOK: I feel really good about where my game is at. Obviously the Champions Tour seems to go week to week on how you feel, but I've felt healthy and felt pretty good all year. I had one little set back at Newport which was unfortunately I couldn't play that event, but I did have a nice start to the year. Won a couple times. I didn't play very well at Shoal Creek last week, but I had been sick with a stomach virus so I wasn't at my best.
But I feel good now and really feel like these next set of Majors for us are important events for me. So I've really tried to commit myself and get my game ready for these events. There's no doubt. And no better place to start than Valhalla, for sure.
KELLY ELBIN: John, you tied for 47th here at the PGA Championship in '96. A long time ago, but just general thoughts on the golf course that you see here this week.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, I remember playing really well for at least I know through the first day, second day, and I think I had a bad Saturday. I think it started at number 13. Where I think I hit a couple balls in the water or did something stupid. And then kind of wrecked the rest of my week.
But I had a good feel for the golf course, it reminds me a lot of Muirfield Village where I played a lot of golf in school. I'm very comfortable on Jack's golf courses, so I feel like my practice the last couple days has been good, so I'm -- I enjoy the golf course.
It is playing really long. I'm sure you've heard that a few times. But I think that there's some, I think there's some options on a lot of the golf holes that will help in being to make the event more competitive, so hopefully the PGA will see and be kind at least Thursday, Friday, to us. They can do whatever they want on Saturday and Sunday, but I think the golf course is great. It's in wonderful shape, obviously it's wet, it's wet every where, so this is no big surprise for us. It's a good, good test of golf of the there's no doubt.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions.

Q. When the golf course is playing wet and as long as it is does it open the field to more guys that can win or does it narrow the field to a few guys that might be able to win?
JOHN COOK: I always thought it would narrow it. It really favors the longest of, our longest of our hitters, there's no doubt. The fairways are soft, balls, it's not only is it not rolling, it's coming backwards at us. So anybody that can carry the ball and get another 15 or 20 yards, that's a big advantage getting into some of these greens, which are very small in some areas.
So I think it would close the field down just a little bit. High ball hitters, obviously you're always, have a little more advantage at Jack's courses. But I don't really fit into either one, I'm a medium hitter, I'm a medium ball flight, but I feel like I am patient enough that I can still play. And I've been driving the ball really nicely for the last couple years. It's not like I'm short, but I'm not one of the longest hitters, but I think my iron game is good enough that I can get into some of the greens. Doesn't really matter if I'm hitting five, six, or 4-irons, I'm fine with all that.
But I would love to see it a dust bowl. That would favor more myself for sure, but it's not going to happen this week. I don't think we're going to get that. It's a patience thing for me this week.
KELLY ELBIN: For the record, John is third in driving accuracy and fifth in greens in regulation on the Champions Tour so far this year.

Q. When you're at the stage of your career and guys on this TOUR, do you do anything different to try to stay healthy or can you, I mean everybody always says everybody on this TOUR has injuries, do you do anything different to try to avoid those injuries?
JOHN COOK: Yeah, I actually have been working really hard with -- the year that I was turning 50 my body was failing. And it was at the wrong time. Just as I'm turning 50 I wanted to be as healthy as I could be and I was going the other way.
I met with a couple guys in Newport Beach that got my body back into decent shape. And I use their program almost every single day. It's just a -- yeah, it's pretty much how your health goes is how you play out here for sure. There's no doubt.
You want to try to keep that window open as long as you can. You just see Hale, Hale's 64 years old, he's, I mean he's in as good a shape as anybody, as anyone. And I kind of look up to that.
So, yeah, I do something five, six times a week as far as this little program that I do that, when I go back to California I see the guys a couple times a week and kind of more maintenance stuff for right now. And then in the off season it's more of a hard training. Very little weight work, but mostly a lot of core, a lot of balance, a lot of flexibility, because we all get, the older you get, the shorter you become, you get, your muscles get short and so we do everything we can to go the other way. So that for me is my, how I try to keep healthy.

Q. I saw on 6 that you tried several different drives. Have you figured out how you'll play 6?
JOHN COOK: It doesn't matter. I'm resigned to the fact that the least amount of club I'll have in there is a hybrid. There's no, doesn't matter where I hit it. It's going to be a 225 yard shot, unless the pin is up in the very, very front.
So there really isn't, it doesn't really matter where I drive it. It just, try to hit a nice drive in the fairway, if I have to hit a 3-wood in there I'll, you just got to accept that fact.
If you try to squeeze one up in that little right corner you bring a lot of trouble in on the right and you sure don't want to put yourself behind the eight ball there. It's just a hard golf hole. I remember in '96 it was a 3-wood and an 8-iron shot to a very, very difficult green with a big deep bunker I think was in the front left.
I know that they moved the green back like 75 yards. So that seems to be the way of the world. Everybody thinks longer is better. I don't know about that. I can debate all day on that one. But that's going to be a tough hole, it doesn't matter if they move the tee up or back it's the same shot.
So that's the one, there's options on other holes that they can move some tees up, but No. 6 is the one that that's just the hole you're going to, you got to hit two of your best shots of the day to make a par because the green's not very accepting for the shots that you're hitting in there, that's for sure.
So anything that you can do to get it up and around the green and eliminate the big number, four will be a really nice score, five is not going to hurt you, there will be very few 3s.
KELLY ELBIN: Do you think differently, prepare differently at all when it's a three day event as most of the Champions Tour events are versus a four day event? Is the preparation any different?
JOHN COOK: Well, I think the misnomer about our three day events is it's three days. But we have to, we only get three days to shoot 15-under par. You don't get that fourth day to get that low low score in. And so a bad nine holes will ruin your chances to win on our TOUR. So you have to pay attention for all 54 holes.
So it's not that easy. It's almost more difficult, because you cannot have a mediocre day and still have a chance to win. Where on the Regular Tour or a four round event you can have maybe a, well, okay, not a great day, and the other three days can make up for that. Regular events don't do that. You have to, you have to bring it from hole No. 1 and hold it through 54 holes.
The only thing different about playing 72 holes is that it is another day of walking for us. Which for me it's fine, that's, I walk anyway, I'm not a cart guy. So I think it just, you can have a mediocre day and still win the golf tournament. But other than that, it's, you know, this golf course is going to be tough, I don't think the winning score's going to be very low, really.
It depends on what they do with some of the tees, but I know the weekend will be tough. So I'm, we just prepare for this event as to get your self in position to win and then have the weekend to try to capture your tournament.

Q. What's the mentality like out there on a course like this when you know you can make up some ground with pars instead of birdies. Is it hard to dial back at all or can you accept that?
JOHN COOK: That's a good question because normally that's what we are doing, we are firing guns blazing on our TOUR. Like I said, if you don't shoot 15-under for three rounds you don't have any chance to win any of our tournaments, except maybe a couple.
So you have to, that was a hard thing for me to get used to was 5, 6-under par a day. And how do you do that? Well you got to fire at flags and you got to make a lot of putts. You start firing at flags on this golf course and you can make yourself look very silly. So it's a patience factor, it's more of a reverting back to the Regular Tour and their Majors. Where you don't have to fire at every flag, you don't have to birdie every hole, there's actually a lot of shots here you cannot fire at a flag with the club that you're hitting in these greens, you -- mine you're firing 3 and 4-irons into sections that aren't very big.
So you're trying to maintain par on those holes trying to take advantage of the par-5s, if you hit good drives. And there's a couple other shorter holes that you can maybe take advantage of, if you hit a good shot off the tee. If you don't hit good shots off the tee you're going to be struggling.
So it's a little bit of a revert back to the old mentality of par's going to be a decent score and eliminate the big hole, bogey's not terrible, and try to take advantage of the very few holes that you do have opportunities on.
KELLY ELBIN: John Cook, thank you very much.
JOHN COOK: Okay guys, thank you.

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