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August 25, 2011

John Cook


PHIL STAMBAUGH: We have John Cook joining us this afternoon. John, three appearances here. You finished third in 2008, three wins this year, tough playoff loss to Fred last week at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. A few thoughts about coming back to Seattle.
JOHN COOK: We love the Pacific Northwest, that's for sure. Between here and Portland, they've been good to us, been good to the Tour, been good to our Tour, as well, the Champions Tour. Had some success at Peter's event, had some success at Fred's event, and my first year here played well. I played well at Sahalee the three times I've played there. I enjoy coming back, I really do.
Looks like we're going to have a good week of weather, which makes it even more enjoyable, but we're excited to be here and ready to go, ready to get back on it.

Q. When you play in a tournament like last week, a major, just miss winning it, how long does that linger with you? Does a major linger longer than others?
JOHN COOK: Yeah, that one was different because I didn't think I did anything to let it go. A playoff is kind of potluck. Like Fred mentioned, we both had our chances during the day to put it away. We didn't, either one of us. And then coming down the stretch in regulation, we had our chances but couldn't get it done. It wasn't like one guy did something wrong and didn't -- gave the tournament away.
So that's a little easier to live with.
A couple other events that I had chances to win, I did give those away, and that's tough. Those linger for a long time, and I don't think it ever goes away. '92 British, definitely think about that, and then the '08 Senior British and the '09 Tradition, I mean, those were mine with one hole to go. So those are tougher. Those are a bit tougher.
But this one wasn't quite as tough, because like he said, anything can happen in a playoff, and we were trying to get it in before some really bad weather came, so we were hustling, so you didn't have time to really think about what was going on. I had a chance, then he had a chance, then looked like I had the upper hand on the third playoff hole, and then he hit it in there a foot, so game was over. Next thing I knew I was in a car going into the city.
That one didn't linger so bad. My wife and I spent two real good days in the city and didn't really have time to really think about it much, just time to get ourselves here and get back into the mode to play well this week.

Q. Were you surprised that Freddie is back and playing this caliber of golf?
JOHN COOK: Not really. He's played through it for a long time. It's part of his deal. We've all made sacrifices in our lives to become who we are and play the way that we have. His is he's not 100 percent healthy, but he's played through that. So it's really not a surprise that he came back and played well. It took him one week of getting back into playing and then the next week you're going to be fine. That's just kind of the way things go, like he was mentioning about Tiger. He needed one more week, he would have been fine, but he didn't have that week. But he wants him to have that week to be ready for The Presidents Cup.
Really anything Fred does is not a real surprise. He's one of the great players that we've had. You look down the list and wonder if he was healthy, where that would have gone. But those were the cards that he was played, and he's done fantastic with it. We're happy that he's out here playing and enjoying it because we all knew he would, and we're glad that he's out and committed to this Tour as much as he can. He's a great addition to any field that we have, and you know that if you win a tournament with Fred in the field, you've beat most of the best that we have.

Q. He's kind of a hometown favorite, a very popular figure. Can you think of any other stops on the Tour certain people have crowds that really gather towards them?
JOHN COOK: I think most everybody has a week where they're that way. I'm kind of that way at Newport, a couple other places. But I think for Fred, obviously Seattle is huge for him, but he's kind of that way everywhere. Even last week on Sunday, you could tell that the crowd -- they're not pulling against anybody because that's not the way golf is, but they're certainly pulling for their guy. So he's pretty much a crowd favorite everywhere he would go. We know that it would be big here, obviously, and that's right, that's fine, we get that, that's okay.

Q. Tell us about that conversation where your high school football coach said, "go play golf."
JOHN COOK: Well, it kind of came down to where I was basically -- I played defense. I played some quarterback early when I was little, but I just wasn't going to be big enough to play quarterback in high school the way -- because we were competitive, we had good teams. My hands didn't grow, I couldn't grip the ball. I could throw it and I knew where guys were and I could get it to them, but it was going to be hard for me because I wasn't going to get any bigger.
I loved the game and my dad was a football coach, and I was playing defense and I was a free safety, so I was just kind of roaming around. Of course the league that we played in had some players that went on to play a lot of D-1. I remember a running back breaking through the line and not getting touched at all, and there I am. I'm the last line of defense. And I was where I was supposed to be and I hit him right in the numbers like I was supposed to, and he never broke stride and ran right over me and went for a touchdown, and I'm looking back going, what am I doing here? It was basically just after that that the coach, who also was the golf coach -- he wasn't my golf coach, he was the coach of the team, but my coach was Venturi, basically said, "John, you know, we like having you on our team, and we love that, and if you want to continue playing, that's yours, but I don't want you to get hurt." Which I never did get hurt playing football or basketball for that matter, but I kind of knew my days were numbered when this guy that was going on to SC or UCLA ran over me like I was a tackling dummy and I did everything right. That was basically the end of my high school football career.

Q. Were you the Terrelle Pryor of your time?
JOHN COOK: Not quite that fast. I could run. I could run. I played like a little mini slot back and then I played safety, had some interceptions. I played football, basketball and golf in high school, and I continued playing basketball. I didn't give that up because I love that game, as well. But golf basically took spring and summer and then once the end of summer came, football came, and then a little bit of basketball, and then it just kind of gave me an extra season to play some more golf before getting into basketball, which was a great transition; play a lot of golf, then you stay in shape, keep your touch and your feel. It's kind of the same -- I thought basketball and golf were very complementary to each other, so I continued playing that. I was going to be 6'1" and 175 pounds, and I could barely touch the rim so I wasn't going to dunk, so that basically ended that.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Thank you very much. Good luck this week.

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