Search

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

Jan. 21, 2002
Jan. 21, 2002

Table of Contents
Jan. 21, 2002

Catching Up With...

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

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.

This is an article from the Jan. 21, 2002 issue Original Layout

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...."

Phillips is the director of instruction at Caves Valley Golf Club
in Owings Mills, Md., and one of Golf Magazine's Top 100
Teachers.

COLOR PHOTO: COURTESY OF ESPN (TOP)TWO COLOR PHOTOS: PORTER BINKS (2)

THE TIP

To put on the brakes after a mid-swing distraction you need to
have begun with a smooth takeaway. This initial action defines
the rest of the swing, so if it is smooth, the rest of the swing
should be too. Think slow and low. The Knock Away, which used to
be one of Nick Faldo's favorite drills, is a great way to
develop a proper takeaway. Use any club--here I've grabbed a
six-iron--and don't forget to turn off your cell phone before
getting started.

1. Put one ball in the normal address position and a second ball
two feet behind it, slightly inside the target line.

2. On the takeaway, hit the top of the second ball, knocking it
backward. Maintaining your smooth, rhythmic tempo, complete the
backswing and strike the first ball.