Cook's final numbers were amazing. He was remarkably consistent, with 25 birdies, one eagle, one bogey and 45 pars. In the first three rounds he hit almost every fairway and put, by his estimation, at least 12 approach shots close enough to the hole for virtual kick-ins. And the course didn't really lie down for the players, despite the conditions. The cut came at a respectable two under, and for the week Southwind played to an average score of 70.264.
Yet the numbers were not what was important to Cook. "I knew I had this in me at some point in my career," he said. "This week I drove it with some length, I hit a lot of greens, and I made some very nice putts. What else can I say? I bet I didn't make five birdies all last week at the Open. I had 'em saved up."
Maybe he should have put a couple in his pocket for the British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes later this month. Cook has never won a major, and a victory there would erase the bad memories from '92. But what was that he was saying in his posttournament news conference? That he'll probably pass the British because he has promised to take his wife, Jan, and their three children to the Olympic Games in Atlanta that week?
"I've been close at the British Open before, and I know what that golf tournament means," Cook said. "I just hope people understand what my family means to me. There will be other British Opens, but there will be only one chance for me to take my kids to the Olympics in this country. There are some other things in life that are more important to me than playing golf."
Ladies and gentlemen, John Cook has left the building.
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