|John Cook reacts after missing his birdie putt on the 16th hole during first round of the 2008 U.S. Senior Open Championship at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Thursday July 30, 2008. (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)
words of a friend to overcome last week’s disappointment in losing in a playoff at the Senior British Open. That’s because he fired an opening round 4-under-par 66 at The Broadmoor East Course.
After letting a back-nine lead slip away at Royal Troon this past Sunday, Cook said the words of his good friend Tiger Woods helped him grabbed the early lead under sunny, hot conditions.
"The deal was, I was supposed to call him if I win the tournament, text if I lose," said Cook. "So Monday morning, I got the text from Tiger."
The two former neighbors exchanged between 10-15 messages Monday when Cook landed in Colorado to prepare for the Senior Open.
"It was a pep talk, mainly. Some private stuff between us, but mostly telling me to keep my head up," added Cook.
He certainly did that, with a birdie putt of only 6 inches on the first hole, which led to 33s on both sides of The Broadmoor layout.
"It’s a different week, different tournament, another major championship," said Cook.
Other than the text messages from Woods on Monday, Cook said he was also greatly helped by a Tuesday practice round with Greg Norman, who knows plenty about overcoming on-course golf disappointments.
"You inspired me on Tuesday," Cook told Norman as they passed in the media interview area after the round.
"We had a good walk. I got up and struck the ball nicely and I said, ‘OK, new week, let’s just get at it again,’" said Cook.
Along with his opening-hole birdie, on the par 4 10th, he found five more of them.
"The way the altitude works in the morning, the ball travels not like sea level, but not what you’re figuring," he said. "As the sun comes out, the ball really goes a long way and you have to adjust during the day. That’s what makes this course interesting."
After turning 50 in late 2007, Cook won his second Champions Tour event at the AT&T Championship in San Antonio.
This year, he has 10 top-10 finishes on the 50-and-older circuit, yet he is still looking for his first 2008 win. He had it in his grasp last week, heading into the back nine with a three-shot margin. But he bogeyed the last hole to fall into a playoff with Bruce Vaughan.
"It still hurts, but the fans have been very understanding out here," said Cook. "They play golf, they know it’s tough. It’s not like I was trying to lose.
"There is nowhere to hide, especially in Scotland where there are no trees, only gorse. It was a tough, tough course."
Cook still has 54 holes left at the tough Donald Ross designed Broadmoor layout, but said Woods’ texts and his toughness should be enough to pull him through.
"Tiger is a great friend. He knows what I want to do out here," he said.
After a one-week delay, Cook is still hopeful the victory phone call can be made from Colorado Springs come this Sunday.
Art Stricklin is a freelance writer whose work previously appeared on www.ussenioropen.com.