What they said: John Cook

May 04, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Regions Tradition transcript archive

MODERATOR: We're here with John Cook for the 2011 Regions Tradition.

John, a two-time winner thus far on the year and we're coming to the first major on the season. I know you're primed for majors this year. A couple opening comments about coming here for our first major championship.

JOHN COOK: Certainly nice to be back in Birmingham playing Shoal Creek, that's for sure. I played in 1984 and remembered it beat me up pretty good, so maybe I can get back at it a little bit.

It's a great venue for our first major. I don't think we could be any more happy to have this event in a quality place like this. I think it just kind of shows what the Champions Tour is about, and the majors are on phenomenal golf courses this year.

Yeah, I think as Phil said, I'm looking forward to the majors and hopefully my game is coming around to where I will be contending in those. I've certainly worked hard enough and I had a nice start, so I'm confident in my abilities. Each week brings something new, obviously, but we're certainly in a good spot right now as far as my -- I feel my game goes. Had a little bit of a stomach virus the last week so maybe my preparation hasn't been exactly how I wanted it, but the last couple days actually it felt a lot better and my practice has been good, so I feel like I'm kind of maybe back to close to where I was when I left Savannah. So I'm certainly looking forward to this. This is all golf course right here and this is what we like.

MODERATOR: We'll just go to questions.

Q. John, Bend, Oregon's a beautiful place and the players like going there but it's a pretty laid back atmosphere. The track record here is pretty big crowds. It should feel more like an important tournament??

JOHN COOK: Yeah, I think you're right, Bill. Bend was phenomenal to us and the golf course was championship caliber. Unfortunately, we didn't get to play in front of those crowds that we need to make it feel like a major golf event. It was a fun week, it was a major championship, but it just was hard to get into that mode when, you know, basically you were playing in front of your wife, you know, your playing partners' wives and maybe somebody else, and then the weekend was nice there.

But certainly I know that Birmingham has embraced this event as it has embraced the events that we've had here before. When you get on the first tee and you see a lot of people, that makes it feel like a championship event, and, you know, I hope we're here for many years to come because I think it just -- it just adds to what our mission is on the Champions Tour and that's entertaining but also competitive, and when you're playing in front of people on a continuous basis, that makes you feel like you accomplished that much more.

Q. John, after playing the last two days, how is it different, how is the course different than what you remembered it when you played here in '84 and '90??

JOHN COOK: I played 9 holes yesterday morning before the squalls came in and I wasn't really feeling very good so I just kind of took the rest of the day off. But I was trying to remember -- I remembered most of the back side. I didn't really remember a lot of the front, but once I got out there, I was like okay, yeah, I remember this.

Basically, the golf course, except for I think the fifth green, might be different. The par 3, I think they've moved it down. Other than that, it's the same golf course. It is really good. I remember the rough being to where you had to chip it sideways to get it out back onto the fairway. So being this early in the year, obviously they couldn't grow the grass to build that -- to grow that deep rough, which I like and don't like. I feel like I drive the ball pretty straight so that's always an advantage, but also, you know, a couple fairways that you do miss, you would have to chip sideways.

So it's very playable. You can advance the ball and get it on the green and hit decent shots out of it. Phenomenal golf holes, just outstanding, difficult holes with such value on your shots, and quality, you have to hit quality golf shots every single swing that you make starting right at the first tee and from then on right through 18, which is just going to be a great, great finishing hole. So this is a major championship golf course right here in every way it could possibly be.

Q. Not to change the subject away from golf, but with the venue being so close to where the tragedy hit last week, have you been out, have you seen any of that or talked to anybody??

JOHN COOK: Just driving out a little bit yesterday after I got done playing in the morning and then just driving just around where we were going and seeing just what was down here, I just can't imagine what it is out and about. It's just horrifying what's going on, you know, between Japan and then here.

I've got -- my close very first cousin lives in Mississippi and he's one of the spokesmen for Mississippi Power & Gas there and so he's the guy that has to come out and explain things in front of everybody. I've talked to him a little bit and just what they had, but, you know, when they went through the hurricanes, I certainly feel for the region and what had happened.

To play a golf event, you know, kind of feel a little bit insignificant for what's been going on and we certainly feel for the area, for the region, and hopefully we can bring some sort of entertainment to the people that are pretty down and out right now. I've been through many earthquakes in California and hurricanes there in Orlando, so we know about it. There's nothing you can do but just believe in the people that are next to you to help get things back to normal.

MODERATOR: Anything else for John? John, thank you very much. Good luck this week.

JOHN COOK: Thanks.