SI Vault
 
BIG PLAY
Dave Phillips
January 21, 2002
John Cook lost a chance at victory—and his cool—at the Sony Open when he was distracted mid-swing by a ringing cell phone
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
January 21, 2002

Big Play

John Cook lost a chance at victory—and his cool—at the Sony Open when he was distracted mid-swing by a ringing cell phone

View CoverRead All Articles

DID COOK OVERREACT?
I don't think so. Pros are often criticized for emotional outbursts like Cook's on Sunday at the par-3 17th (he bogeyed the hole and wound up losing by a stroke), but that's often the only way a golfer can blow off steam and refocus. If Cook hadn't slammed his club into his bag (above) and glared at the teenage fan whose cell phone rang, he probably wouldn't have been so juiced up to eagle the par-5 18th, which he almost did when he just missed his 60-foot putt.

SPEED KILLS
Cook has a more abbreviated swing than most Tour players. As a result, he tends to be too fast while changing directions from the backswing to the downswing, what we call the down-cock. The quick changeover of the down-cock generates power but also makes it virtually impossible for Cook to stop in mid-swing.

HOW I PLAY THE GAME
Following the final round, Cook talked about the cell phone incident. "Point of no return," he said. "Not even Tiger could've saved that one." I'm not sure about that. We've all seen plenty of instances in which Tiger came to a screeching halt during the downswing, including a couple of times last week at the New Zealand Open. For all his power, Woods's takeaway is controlled and deliberate, and he maintains this tempo and width throughout the swing, unlike the down-cock of Cook.

IN THE ZONE
The distractions at Tour events are going to get only worse as the game's popularity continues to swell. This spring the Masters will begin confiscating badges from fans caught using a cell phone on the course, but that's only one tournament. Tour players must learn to remain composed amid the increasing intrusions. After all, Brett Favre throws perfect spirals with 70,000 boos raining down on him.

MR. NICE GUY
Though Cook lost a chance at victory, we can all learn a lesson from him because he never lost his sense of humor. Following the round, he said jokingly, "I think the phone call was a setup. If I see Jerry having dinner with that kid tonight...."

1