SONOMA, Calif. -- When he was a young buck on the PGA Tour, John Cook made a conscious effort to watch (and learn from) Tom Watson. Cook was mentored by Ken Venturi, who had been taught by Byron Nelson, who was close to Watson. Cook worked his way into practice-round pairings with Watson whenever he could.
"You can only learn by observing, and I tried to observe Tom Watson as much as I could on the regular tour in my early years," Cook said. "There's no question I learned as much from him as I did any [other] player. I was just soaking stuff [up]."
Like a lot of golfers on the Champions Tour, Cook still loves to get paired with Watson, who plays with dispatch and accepts the bad with the good as well as anyone who has ever played. "No B.S., he just gets up and hits it," Cook said. Plus, as Cook noted, if you're paired with Watson, it's a good bet you're near the top of a leader board, which is where the two men find themselves after two rounds of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Cook and Watson will be in the final pairing Saturday after lighting up Sonoma GC Friday. On a calm, sunny day perfect for golf , Cook shot a 10-under 62 to take a three-stroke lead at 14-under 130 over Watson, who shot a 64 and is T-2 with Phil Blackmar at 11-under.
"We were out there going, 'This is like a Bob Hope Desert Classic day,' " Cook said. It starts out cool in the morning, then the sun comes out and it gets to the mid-70s. Very little wind, and the ball was traveling. This is really like playing in a dome."
-- Bill Fields