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August 21, 2011

John Cook


THE MODERATOR: Okay. John, exciting day. A little bit of a rain delay in there. You shoot a final around 70 and then fall on the third hole of the playoff. Just general thoughts about the overall day and the delay and then talk about the playoff, if you can.
JOHN COOK: You know, we knew we were under the gun a little bit with the weather, and you know, we pretty much understood we were going to get suspended at some point. We were just trying to get along and trying to finish. I know there's some nasty stuff coming.
But you know, the course played hard. It just was a hard golf course today. And there was some bogeys to be made. You had some birdie opportunities, but the pins were good.
You know, I battled all day. It was a battle. And didn't have my best stuff, but neither did Fred and neither did Peter. Those are just testaments to the golf course. I think everybody here would agree that the golf course has stood the test of time, and it's just a great venue. There's no doubt.
The wind was blowing so hard in the playoff that, you know, the 18th hole was a par 5 for me. There was no chance. It was hard to get the ball up on top with any club that you wanted to hit. And then Fred hit a good drive on the second playoff hole, and you know, bombed a 3-wood up there, which I had no chance.
You know, I had a little bit of life after that, and just kind of got caught on the wrong side of the hole at the 17. I didn't have a very good angle with the way the wind was blowing. I didn't really want to send my pitching wedge out over the bunker and just kind of jerked it a little bit. Didn't hit a very good shot. But he hit a class shot in there a couple feet, and what can you do?
I just -- you know, I had my opportunities to win. There's no doubt about it. But Fred is a great champion, obviously, and I'm disappointed.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll just go straight to questions. Just raise your hand and wait for the mics, if you could.

Q. John, third time in this scenario for you losing a senior major in a playoff. How tough is this for you right now?
JOHN COOK: Yeah. It's hard. I had my chances on the regular tour a couple of times. I've had three playoff losses here on this tour and one other chance, real good chance there at Valhalla last year.
Boy, it's disappointing. It really is. This is what -- I think these are signature tournaments, and I've had my chances. I let two go. I don't know if I really let this one go, but I certainly let -- you know, I let the Senior British in '08 and the Tradition in '09. You know, those were mine.
But like I said, this one I just -- it just -- I hit a good shot into 15 and I thought if I'd have made that putt, that that was a big putt. And I thought I hit a good putt, but you know, the greens just aren't real speedy, and it just didn't break, you know, like you would think it would. You know, it just didn't -- my mind couldn't play less break and hit it harder. It just -- the mind plays tricks on you, but yeah, I've had my chances. I won't deny it. I'm disappointed.

Q. John, when you put aside the conditions and all, what's it like emotionally when you're going putt for putt with two other guys for 21 holes really?
JOHN COOK: It's a great feeling. You know, that's what we do. It's what we've done since I was a teenager playing with the best of the best. And going head to head with the best of the best. And you know, early on in my teenage years and my amateur years I won all those. Professional years it just seems I can't quite click in to get over that hump.
You know, I won all those, you know, the U. S. Amateurs and all the major junior events and all of that from, you know, with all the same guys. And we're still going toe to toe, you know, and that's what makes this such a great, you know, such a great game, such a great sport that you can still do it in your 50s with the same guys you did in your teens.
And you know, that's kind of what I was thinking about all day. I've played hundreds of rounds with Fred, and you know, it just is -- it's fun to be part of. It's not fun to be on that end, but it's fun to be part of.

Q. What were you thinking when you see Fred stuff that shot?
JOHN COOK: Yeah. I gave him an open door. I really did. I didn't hit a very quality shot in there. I still thought I had a chance. You know, it wasn't a tough putt that I had, but you know, late in the day, greens get a little bumpy and all, but that's beside the point.
I could have hit a better putt to put a little more pressure on him, but he hit a quality shot from where he was, and you know, I think he had the same putts in regulation, so he knew exactly what to do, so it was pretty much game over.

Q. Did you think you had a chance at that putt on 18 in regulation that went up the hill, just went off the right?
JOHN COOK: Oh, yeah. That putt hit the bottom of the hole. Yeah.
You know, I laid it up in the rough, but I actually was kind of hitting it over there because I knew -- you couldn't keep the ball in the top, no matter what you did. So you kind of had to be in the rough. And so I had the perfect angle. And I thought I hit a better shot than it turned out in regulation. I was really surprised that the ball was where it was. I thought it was up, you know, about 8 or 10 feet left of the hole.
But the putt I hit, when I looked up it was breaking and it was tracking right in the center, and it broke just at the very end. I did. I thought that that putt was going in. My eyes got real big.

Q. John, 15, obviously the putt didn't go in, but 16, the swing there with your bogey and Fred's par.

Q. What happened on that, the tee shot there?
JOHN COOK: Yeah. It was 225 into the wind hard. And you know, that means I can't hit 3-wood because that brings a lot of stuff to the plate. And the hybrid to me into the wind will spin too much, and I just was trying to hit one low and just trying to do anything to like hook it back into the wind, and I just kind of got it up and it just fluttered up and spun up in the air and then it just caught a big wall of wind, and it basically got -- it got shaved pretty quickly. And then I hit a pretty good pitch and it was like hitting a sack of mush. It just didn't go anywhere. Then I thought I made that putt, but Fred made a great 10 or 12-footer for par. And then we both knew what we needed to do.

Q. How long was the par putt?
JOHN COOK: About 25 feet. Yeah. And I could have hit a better chip or I actually thought I hit a pretty good chip, and it just hit, and it didn't. It made a ball mark, an actual ball mark. So wasn't a real good effort there.

Q. John, the future of this tournament is kind of up in the air, looking for the title sponsor, but if they can work it out, would you be opposed to keeping it in this area but on the rotation of similar courses?
JOHN COOK: Absolutely. This area is part of us. Like I said yesterday, Crenshaw and I were talking about it seems like we spent half of our lives in this area. And I think it would be great to have it on rotation or just here, whatever. A rotation would be great up here.
Like I said yesterday, too, the Northeast has been very good to me. I've done well in the Northeast, and I love it. I sit on the board. So I will lobby hard.

Q. John, you did have a two-stroke lead on the Back 9. Did you feel in any way like you maybe got a little conservative out there?
JOHN COOK: No way. 11 and 12 are the hardest par 4s on any tour today. I'd put those against any two holes back to back that we play all year and that they play all year. It doesn't matter. That pin on 11 was un-Godly. I mean it was -- whew. And then 12, when Fred Couples is hitting driver 3-wood into a par-4, you know, that's par 5 for me. And you know, I knew that those holes were going to be tough, and if I could get through those, and I came back with a good birdie at 13.
So you know, I hit some quality shots, but the miscue at 16 and the not making a better effort at 18, but other than that, you know, 11 and 12 were all you can handle. You know, I'm not the only one going through there making two bogeys. I promise you that. It was tough.

Q. Is there anything that's going to keep you up at night?
JOHN COOK: Yeah. Just that I didn't get the job done. You know, the other ones I beat myself up over because those were mine and I hit -- you know, I didn't close the deal there.
This one was a little bit different. I don't feel like it got away. I feel like it was a tough golf course and we battled, and nobody was doing anything great. You were making pars. That back side is just -- you know, kind of like the PGA last week. Just kind of hang on. Get through No. 10 and hang on, because there were not many opportunities from there on in.
And the way 18 played with the wind blowing so hard, you know, really was tough to, you know, to have everybody give it a go. I would love to have had conditions to where we all could have maybe knocked it on the green or had a chance.
But not really. I'm disappointed that I didn't come out on top, but I'm not going to look back and say I should've or would've, could've done this. Just the conditions were such that it didn't allow that. But I battled all day. I really did.

Q. What club did you hit on 15 in regulation and on 17 in the playoff?
JOHN COOK: Yeah. 15 I hit 7-iron. I hit a nice drive over the right side of the tree, you know, way down there. That was a good drive.
And then 17 in the playoff was a pitching wedge.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll let you go. Thanks, John.

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