Tigers ATT National Press Conference
Q. Obviously the most important question in my mind, how is your knee? How is the rehab? And when do we expect you to see you back playing?
TIGER WOODS: Knee is doing better. The rehab is working. It gets really old riding that bike, man. But everything is on schedule. Just trying to get this thing organized for the Open. Right on schedule for that.
Q. Tiger, my talk show deals with the demographic of 50 to 75. We will be sending you a card sometime when you hit 49. Okay? We look forward to having you get that card. Had a question. I had an opportunity to meet you during the grand opening ceremony in Anaheim for the Tiger Woods Learning Center. I know that you are trying to duplicate something similar to that here in D.C. Do you have any expectations of building another facility in another part of the country? If so, when?
TIGER WOODS: We are looking right now just in this specific area. As Greg alluded to earlier, we're going to announce something later this year, as late as early next year, our next site, which will be here.
But as far as other learning centers across the country and across the world, we haven't gone -- haven't delved into that yet. We want to take it slow and do it right the first time. It takes a couple years to get everything organized in California and probably, of course, the same thing happening here, from beginning to end.
So we're really focused on that and once we get these things -- understand how to do them on both coasts, foreseebly, yes, we plan on doing something abroad. I would like to, of course, first go to Asia where my mom was from, Thailand. Probably the next step would be to Africa.
Q. Two-parter. Number one, they both really deal with the same thing. How much harder is it this time rehabbing? Along with that, in talking about the Foundation schools and stuff, where do you see that ten years from now? Is there going to be this nationwide setup? I'm trying to get to, where do you see -- you have much more chance to think about things now, I think, this time. I just wondered your vision 10, 15 years from now about Tiger Woods and about the Foundation.
TIGER WOODS: As far as the rehab, it's been just right on -- basically right on pace. It's cautious. It's been slow. It's been boring, but the leg is starting to gain some strength.
Q. Is it hard?
TIGER WOODS: Hard to be patient. You know I am not a patient kind of guy when it comes to that. I always want to go all out. Sometimes it is hard for me not to do that but got to be smart about it. And I've done that.
As far as the Foundation, 5, 10, 15 years down the road, I certainly foresee us being not just the impact we're having here, obviously doing a lot greater than right now but we are going to go overseas. And we're going to have impact we're having here is just the blueprint for what we will do overseas.
There are so many kids that need help. Obviously, we have a lot of kids here that need our help. We're going to try to do that now. There are also a lot of kids around the world that need our help as well. So this is not just my icon, not just this generation's. It's generations down the road. We are just setting up the blueprint now for that.
Q. Tiger, with all the inactivity you have been talking about, the lay-off, not playing competitive golf and the rehab, I guess the next tournament will be the U.S. Open. Is it fair to consider you the favorite for that with all that you've gone through going into this event?
TIGER WOODS: Fair or not fair, it doesn't really matter. There are 156 guys in that field. (Inaudible). There's a lot of guys in the field.
My whole idea is obviously to have the lowest score at the end of the week. I will do everything I can to be ready like I am for each and every other major.
TIGER WOODS: I'm playing.
Q. Can you take us through the thought process of the Memorial this week, and do you think you will be 100% for the U.S. Open?
TIGER WOODS: I wasn't ready. My practice wasn't -- I started my practice basically just recently. So going to Memorial rusty, it wouldn't have made any sense. I wasn't sharp enough. I didn't hit all my shots I needed to hit yet at home and make sure everything is organized. I wasn't quite ready. So, no sense in going there not ready. The whole idea is to be ready for the U.S. Open.
Q. Last year there was a lot of speculation how your family would (indiscernible). How about Sam, how is she doing?
TIGER WOODS: Sam is doing fantastic. She is walking already. She is moving around the house. We had a little putter that she poked me in the head with yesterday. I have a hard head.
It's unbelievable to see how just in the last -- literally in the last month how much she's changed, her personality and the things she is able to learn and grasp and understand what we're saying to her. It all happened fairly recently. From what I hear, everything just keeps getting better so can't wait.
TIGER WOODS: What's that? She is already behind schedule then as far as my age(laughter). If she started at my age, I was walking at 9 months. (Indiscernible).
TIGER WOODS: What? I was being smart about it.
Q. I'm curious, how have your expectations changed for this tournament now that you do already have one under your belt.
TIGER WOODS: My expectations of?
Q. Pulling it off and having it be special.
TIGER WOODS: Last year was -- it was -- the staff was stressed. Everyone was stressed. They had 112 days to put on an event and then pull together and everyone from the communities. It was just -- everyone was running up against a deadline. Everyone was working countless hours around the clock. Everyone was just like Zombies walking around here by the end of the tournament.
This year we've had a full year, and things are -- we've run a tournament out of Sherwood for a number of years now, and it helps when you have a full 12 months. Now we have that. With everyone here in the community, as excited as they were last year, about coming back and having this event here this year, it makes things so much easier.
Q. Could you talk about what your daily practice schedule is, how many hours you are hitting golf balls? And are you hitting the driver yet?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm hitting the driver. I'm playing. If it is a feel thing, I shut it down when I feel it is time to shut it down. It's on a day-to-day deal. Some days it is not very long. Some days it is all day.
Q. Since last July and this tournament and with Sam being around, has not winning tournaments been more palatable for you?
TIGER WOODS: Yes. Never been easy not winning a tournament. That's the ultimate goal. Going out there and then not getting it done that certainly puts a bad taste in your mouth. But you come home, just because I missed the 3-putt for par in the last hole, she doesn't care. Her da-da's home.
That's -- I've heard from people say these things. I just don't understand it. But then when you actually go through it, you really appreciate it. Everything stands still when you are with the child.
Q. Just bookkeeping here. You are not playing next week?
TIGER WOODS: Yes.
Q. Why wouldn't you play (indiscernible) for the Open?
TIGER WOODS: One, the golf course doesn't really (indiscernible). Memorial is actually pretty good setup for that, but obviously I wasn't ready.
Q. As far as Torrey Pines goes, one of the finishing holes and one of the longer par 4s was a drivable par 4?
TIGER WOODS: I heard the same thing. On 14?
Q. Wonder what your thoughts were on the USGA kind of taking that strategy? Thinking you like the short drivable par 4s. (Indiscernible).
TIGER WOODS: I thought that was very strange as well because they lengthened 14 quite a bit the last three designs. It's been -- generally I've played (indiscernible). It's been a 3-wood and a 7-iron to a 9-iron. But I should have it drivable. Never would have foreseen the USGA doing that.
But then again, that hole, if you landed the ball on the green, you know it will be a little back. I don't know if they made -- if they will keep that as a hazard or whether that's just the unplayable-wise or whatever it may be. I don't know what they are going to do with that.
When I get there -- obviously when you get there, you check it out in the practice rounds and figure out a game plan.
TIGER WOODS: Very surprising. Very surprising. I am glad they took one of our par 5s away, so I guess I don't feel guilty.
Q. From what Greg was saying a moment ago, it sounds like the military component of this year's tournament is being ramped up even more than it was a year ago. Can you talk about how much the military presence here a year ago moved you, especially in light of your dad's connection to the military and what his and your vision for their inclusion in a tournament like this always was.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that people don't realize the dedication men and women are doing and what we receive. We want to say thank you. They don't get enough thanks. They put their lives on the line. We want to say thank you however we can. We want to say thank you.
I grew up in a military household. I understand. I understand what it takes. I witnessed it. I have been around the guys all my life. Have been part of the military from infantrymen to special forces. I have been around all that. I know what it takes.
They don't get enough thanks. And we're here to do that. We're here to say thank you. There are people here who really do miss them, really appreciate what they're doing. We understand what they're doing, what their job is and thank you so much for what they're doing.
Q. Obviously, over the years you've developed a way to approach Majors and this year through circumstances you can't control, the injury, you're not having the same approach to the Open. I'm wondering if you can discuss the challenges going into the Open, the uncertainty. Is there something different you do logically with that long of a layoff, especially like a big one like this?
TIGER WOODS: It would be nice having a feel going into any tournament really. Kind of an understanding what the misses might be, what they have been. Get some sort of idea about playing a number of events. And I don't have that opportunity.
But it's not like I haven't been down this road before. I had a procedure done and came back at Torrey Pines. (Indiscernible).
So I know what it takes to win a tournament coming back off after having a procedure done, and it is just a matter of being prepared, getting all my practice time in, making sure my shots are how I want them, trying to understand what my misses might be. But you don't really know until you get under tournament heat what your misses are going to be. Hopefully I can rectify them if that happens.
Q. When you take a week off or two weeks off because of your injury or you are rehabbing, do you get away from it? Or do you watch an event on the T.V. or yell at the T.V., if they are talking about you throughout the broadcast? Or do you not even watch it?
TIGER WOODS: I only -- I have learned over the years not to watch. I only watch when some of my friends are playing. This year I was glued to the T.V. watching the Senior tournament, watching Jay and Marco played well. Shot 66 on Friday and got back in the hunt.
Kind of made that a rule of thumb, my friends are playing, well, then, I'll watch. If not, then the T.V. is off.
Q. Obviously the U.S. Open to you right now is paramount. Majors -- this is not a Major. How important is winning this tournament to you?
TIGER WOODS: I always want to win every event. Hosting your own event, I think that's a great way to be a host, win your own event. (Laughter).
Q. Have you -- are you any closer to finding a replacement venue when you can't hold it at Congressional? And do you anticipate stopping by Avenel before you take off?
TIGER WOODS: Stopping by Avenel today, no. Certainly I will take a look at it when I am here playing the tournament. As far as other venues, we are looking at anything and everything right now. We know Congressional is not an option.
Q. With all the good you do with the Foundation, one thing that Jack Nicklaus started doing when he was in his 30s, he would take a tournament every year where he had not played before because his presence was so important. A lot of athletes and entertainers have gone to New Orleans since Katrina. Would you consider playing there next year or in the next couple of years since that's one of the places you haven't played?
TIGER WOODS: Certainly would entertain it, yes.
Q. Just curious, how much pain were you in at Augusta? Did you make the decision before Augusta that you were going to have this procedure or right afterwards? Or were you really hurting there at Masters, thinking 'I got to get this done'?
TIGER WOODS: I made the decision probably two to three weeks prior to Augusta I was going to have it done. I couldn't function anymore with what I was doing. Not a fun way -- not a fun way to play, moving around.
Q. Were you in pain? Were you able to swing as well as you would want to or not?
TIGER WOODS: I could get by.
Q. Have you reached the point now where you're pain-free pretty much in the knee at this point in the rehab?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't say pain-free. It is more stiffness than anything. Trying to get the muscle to fire back and get those things developing again.
That's the main thing right now is keeping my endurance up.
Q. I know you said last year you weren't happy with the way you played here at the tournament. Have you thought about kind of how to balance and how to deal with the needles that you said your staff was on last year hosting the tournament and also finding ways to play well? Have you thought about that process yet?
TIGER WOODS: Well, last year I did play well last year. I struggled on the greens. I didn't roll the ball well. Hit the ball well enough to at least give myself a chance if I would have putted normal, but I didn't do that. I made too many 3-putts.
Consequently, I didn't give K.J. a run for his money. Having the tournament in 112 days was phenomenal. The staff did everything in their power to make sure I didn't have to worry about anything. You are always going to worry about it, but they did just an unbelievable job in doing that.
Q. I know you don't pay the critics much mind, but one of the common complaints out there is Tiger Woods, he doesn't stand for anything. Yet, you are sitting here with this learning center behind you, supporting the military. Does this sort of answer that question that you do support things and speak out when necessary?
TIGER WOODS: I speak out for my Foundation, what we are trying to do. I do that each and every day in what I believe it, and that's to try to help kids. If you look at what we have done over the ten years, it has been pretty amazing stuff.
People obviously want me to be more involved in all causes. I can't do that. I have been very focused in what I want to do through my Foundation and I think we are making a tremendous impact as of right now just in this country but eventually around the world.
Q. Between all of the things you are doing right now, is it harder this time than the other times? Do you miss the game as much this time with Sam around and the family and building the new house and everything else? Is it harder -- is it harder to come back this time?
TIGER WOODS: Nope, nope. I miss it. I miss mixing up with the boys. I miss the heat of being in there, in contention with everything on the line, trying to pull off a shot. That's fun to me. That's why I prepare, and that's what I love to do.
Just haven't been able to do it. Doesn't mean I miss it. I'm really looking forward to the Open and getting out there and mixing it up with the boys again.
Q. Years ago obviously your dad had made a comment (indiscernible) around the world to significant figures in history and took a lot of criticism for that. I wonder when you look at talking about expanding learning centers to other parts of the world and things like that, do you take a look back and say, this is kind of what he meant?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't understand what he was talking about. I thought he was talking crazy. But maybe he saw something I didn't and I didn't know it. Maybe as all parents, you try to plant seeds in our kids to inspire them to do great things.
Maybe that was it. Whatever it is, whatever he did then, I'm very proud of what he believed in me, what he saw in me, what I could do.
As I said, what we're doing now just the blueprint, not just for this generation but for generations to come. We're going to make an impact around the world. Like I said, maybe that's what he saw. I'm just thankful he saw something in me.
Q. You had spoken about the Grand Slam being obtainable. If you had won at Augusta, would you have prolonged the surgery? Would you have waited to have it?
TIGER WOODS: No. As I said over here, with the injuries prior to that, it was not fun. (Indiscernible) daily basis living just wasn't fun. I needed to have it.
Q. How was that -- had you factored in the surgery and then getting ready for Torrey Pines and the U.S. Open?
TIGER WOODS: Well, depends on what they found inside. Obviously, something was causing some pain and I just wanted to make sure that wasn't going to happen again.
Q. One of the things that has defined you has been your pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record, 18 professional majors. How often do you think about that and what happens if and when you break the record?
TIGER WOODS: Well, actually I probably think of it less now because when I first started out, they kept asking me about it. I think they are asking me about it less now so it has been easier.
It's been -- I knew starting the TOUR after I won the 9-7 -- Jack did it over 20-plus years. It is not something you are going to do over a short amount of time. It is going to take longevity. First of all, I had to stay out here. (Inaudible) people don't realize that was the last year they had the grandfather clause the ten-year exemption. Now mine has run out so I have to play well. So I need to get back on TOUR.
As far as Jack and what he's done, I knew that would take an entire career. That was my mind-set going into it. It hasn't changed. (Indiscernible).
Q. I have a history here that goes back a little more than ten years with Congressional. Can you talk about some of your earlier memories here at Congressional and what holes do you find the most challenging?
TIGER WOODS: I remember playing here obviously at the Open. I remember the rough being unbelievably deep that year. I was in it quite a bit, wasn't driving very well. I made a little bit of a run on Friday and I got myself up there a little bit on Saturday.
It was -- it was just an unbelievable test. I know one hole that's not here anymore is the 18. But I think they replaced it with a new 10. It is even harder than the old 18.
I think what they've done to this golf course is they have made it better. They have made it more fair, but they have also made it more challenging. It will be interesting to see how the Open is set up when it comes back here. Obviously it is longer now. It is very demanding. And there is really no rest hole out here. Every hole has (indiscernible). That's why USGA loves coming here, because you are tested on every factor of the game.
Q. Your learning center out in Anaheim is in its third year of operation. I'm wondering if you have gotten any sense of what the impact has been on the kids out there. Can you talk a little bit about that and whether it's met your expectations and hopes.
TIGER WOODS: It has exceeded my own expectation, all of ours.
We thought the first year we would probably get 3,000 kids coming through there. We had 8,000. We've had kids write us letters and 'Thank you so much forgiving us the opportunity. I am now going off to college. First person in my family to go off to college.' That's an impact that we all should have, we all should be striving for.
I have been lucky enough to be in this position where I can help a lot of kids. Our learning center right now, we're just getting started. Just getting started with what we are trying to do. It is phenomenal what we have done so far but (indiscernible).
Q. You said that in those years the tournament would not be held at Congressional, you're considering other -- many other venues. If for whatever reason there was not a venue to your liking, could you see moving the tournament out of the Washington, D.C. area? Or will you always have it in Washington?
TIGER WOODS: We have to explore every option, whether it is here or outside the area. We have to explore all of them.
Q. If you left the area, is it your goal to come back to the area where Congressional could have it or do you see it leaving permanently if you like some other place?
TIGER WOODS: We would love to come back. If membership would have us, we would love to come back.
Q. Given that your tournament take place after July 1st when the TOUR (indiscernible), implements drug testing how do you feel about drug testing? And what do you think about Butch Harmon's comments in 'Golf Week' that we would be pretty naive to think that someone hasn't taken growth hormones or steroids to allow themselves to recover from an injury or hit more balls to make their body hit better?
TIGER WOODS: First of all, I'm very tired??? of -- the commissioner basically said -- he made -- the policy will be implemented on July 1st. Whether we test this week or not, he can't tell us. So that's the whole idea of being random.
But it will be open to testing July 1st and thereafter. So you don't know when it is going to come. It could be whenever.
As far as what Butch has said, I think he's right. I think we would be very naive to say that someone has never tried it in our sport. Everyone has tried it in most sports. There is no reason to think why someone hasn't. Around the world, you never know.
Q. You yourself might have wondered why certain players have been trying some sort of--
TIGER WOODS: I never said that. I just said we would be naive to say someone has never, ever delved into it.
Q. You mentioned Jack Nicklaus. Looking at the whole history of golf, what facet of it intrigues you the most? Palmer? Hogan? (Inaudible).
TIGER WOODS: I mean, the history of the game?
TIGER WOODS: Probably not until Jack had probably won his sixth Masters and then after that. I was obviously very young. I think I understood the game, but everyone was kept saying how can you win six Masters and all these different things and I never understand that.
You start reading, start reading about the game. And as I start playing more and more, more junior golf, more amber golf, obviously when I started playing a lot of kids from the Junior World Championship in San Diego, all over the world, people start talking. That's when my curiosity probably got piqued to the next level.
Q. What was your reaction when you heard Annika, that she would retire at the end of the season? And have you spoken with her since then? And, if so, what have you spoken about?
TIGER WOODS: I knew that was going to happen. She's done it all. She's been through it all. For men and women, it is two totally different things. Who knows, she might come back or not. I doubt it. I don't see Annika ever doing anything half-ass. The time she is going to spend with her child and her family, I don't ever see her ever wanting to come back to the game of golf in that capacity. What it takes to do that, I don't foresee her doing it. We talked quite a bit after that.
I just -- I'm very happy for her. She sounds happy, very at peace with what she's done and what she's said.
Q. We were told to ask all our questions. Your thoughts on other athletes that collect other athlete's autographs, building their own collections, that sort of thing, are you interested in that? Do you do that? And did you once turn Roger Federer down?
TIGER WOODS: I have turned Roger down a lot of different times. As far as asking for autographs, I don't. I don't personally do that. It's not that important to me. It is more important for me to go talk to them and meet them and remember that moment. That to me is more important, to me.
Other people are different. Other people want to have pictures only. Other guys want to have memorabilia signed to them. That's important to them. For me, it is just the moment. Just meeting Muhammad Ali for the first time. I am great friends with Jordan. All these -- I much rather have that moment. That's what's important to me.
Q. Second, with the Foundation, with the learning center, with your own tournament now, some might argue that you are a C.E.O. of your own company. What kind of C.E.O. are you? Are you demanding? Do your employees work hard for you?
TIGER WOODS: If they don't work hard, they're fired. (Laughter).
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Encouraging. Thanks a lot for that. Who asked that question?
TIGER WOODS: No, I think that when you have what we have, what we believe in our kids. You automatically work hard and you want to help. Want to give kids an opportunity to help with anything they want in their lives. And you are doing everything you possibly can. You work more hours just because you know that it's going to help kids down the road.
It has been amazing, the atmosphere that we have at the office. It's great to see because of the camaraderie, they heighten the level each and every day. They can't wait to get to work because they know they will give a kid a chance to make something of themselves. That's very exciting.
Q. The lovely trophy that sits to your left, how does it work? You win the tournament, who gives it to you? You were asked that last year. Can you and Greg talk about how you came up with U.S. Capitol?
TIGER WOODS: As far as U.S. Capitol, it couldn't be any more apropos. We are in the nation's capital 4th of July weekend. It just fits. It just fits.
As far as me giving the trophy, I might as well give it to myself, that's fine. I will thank all the sponsors. Make sure everyone has applause, 2008 champion, blah, blah, blah, blah 'Tiger Woods, here you go.' 'Tiger, what do you think of this'?
I don't have a problem doing that. I really don't. Hopefully it will happen. (Applause.)
End of FastScripts
If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it
NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.
She says she always gets nervous starting a round.
You don’t believe it, though.
She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .
Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .
Or disarming ticking bombs . . .
“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.
Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.
Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.
Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.
At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.
She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.
She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.
And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.
There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.
Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.
It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.
Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.
Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.
“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”
About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.
Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.
“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”
David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.
“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”
Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.
Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . .
“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.
Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.
“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”
Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.
“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.
Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.
National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.
The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.
Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.
These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:
Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.
This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.
“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”
Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.
In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.
If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.
“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”
Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.
Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.
''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''
The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.
The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.
''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.
''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''
First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).
Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.
''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.
''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''