Richmond, Texas — Fatigued?
“No, fatigue, just sore feet,” said Kenny Cook after he defeated Tony Behrstock, 3 and 2, in a quarterfinal match at the 31st U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship Wednesday morning at Shadow Hawk Golf Club.
The win was Cook’s fourth of the week following two rounds of stroke play. All totaled he has played 98 holes in five days. Yet Cook has helped himself mentally.
He shot 2-under 142 in stroke play, tying for fifth, and was never in serious danger of missing out on match play. En route to Wednesday afternoon’s semifinal against John Engler, of Augusta, Ga., the 31-year-old Cook had played just 67 holes, five more than his final-four foe.
But Cook also has trailed for only one hole, that being after the first hole in his 2-and-1 win over Matthew Smith in Tuesday afternoon’s third round.
“I feel like I’ve got the tools to get up early and, if not, I can play from behind,” he said.
Against Behrstock, of Los Angeles, Calif., Cook wrangled control of the match with a birdie on the par-3, 210-yard fourth hole and a par on the 441-yard, par-4 fifth. He led 2 up until Behrstock made a 10-foot birdie on the 429-yard, par-4 10th..
Cook won the 216-yard, par-3 11th with a par and 562-yard, par-5 14th with a birdie to go 3 up. He closed the match by halving the 460-yard, par-4 16th.
“It was back and forth there for a while until I made the birdie putt on four,” said the Noblesville, Ind., resident. “Then I settled down a little. I didn’t really pay much attention to what he did, just tried to play my game.
“If I can get my putting back like I did in the second round, I think I will be playing my best.
“No, it’s just golf. I’ve got to go out and play the course. I’m not really concerned with who I am playing or where I am on the course — the rough or the fairway,” said Cook, who turned professional for seven months after graduating from Ball State University in 2003 and then filed for amateur reinstatement.
“Yeah, the biggest thing is perspiration,” said Cook after showering and changing clothes prior to his semifinal match. “I had to have someone come in after nine holes just to get me some more dry towels.”
Cook may not win this week, but he will have friendly bragging rights when he gets home. His wife, Lisa, qualified for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, which is being played concurrently this week at Bayville Golf Club in Virginia Beach, Va. Lisa Cook tied for 82nd in stroke play and failed to qualify for match play in her first USGA championship appearance.
“I’m not sure she got the best draw with the weather and everything,” said Cook of the Women’s Mid-Amateur that was plagued by several weather delays. “There might have been a case of some nerves as well.”
Kenny Cook is making his fourth USGA championship appearance, his best finish being at this championship two years ago at Kiawah Island Resort when he reached the second round of match play.
But if perspiration is the only thing holding Cook back this week, it may well turn out to be his best.
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on USGA championship websites.