Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Taste of Success: Cook's Spiced-Up Swing Puts Bread on Table

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Taste of Success: Cook's Spiced-Up Swing Puts Bread on Table

Article excerpt

When former St. Louis Open champion Jeff Cook began redesigning his golf swing, his mentor warned him he might fall back before springing forward.

"He said you might takes three steps backward before you start coming around," Cook said. "Then you might take six steps forward. But there are no guarantees. You might never step forward. I was beginning to wonder."

Cook got a little more indication he is headed in the right direction Sunday. He fired a closing round, 4-under-par 68 and made a run at winning the Nike Gateway Classic at Lake Forest Golf & Country Club.

"I really could have scored even better," Cook said. "I played really solid all day. I had some chances."

Cook joined Mike Sposa, Gary Rusnak and Rafael Alarcon in shooting the low score of the day. But Cook was the only one of the four who had a chance to win. He ended up in five-way tie for third place, which earned him $9,400.

It had been a while since Cook had collected such a paycheck. Last year, he played on the PGA Tour and won $72,000, finishing 165th on the money list.

But the Indiana University product came tumbling into this year. His game was discombobulated and his mind confused. He sought the advice of golf guru David Leadbetter. But after working with Leadbetter for a while, and making no progress, he went to see a Leadbetter lieutenant in Knoxville, Tenn.

The remedy has not been quick or painless.

"From January to May, I was really struggling," said Cook, 33. "It was the worst I have played in four or five years."

During the period, Cook entered seven Nike events. He missed the cut five times and withdrew once. But with a decent round here and another there, Cook gradually was putting back the pieces.

Last week, he interrupted a two-week layoff to play in the Deposit Guaranty Classic, a PGA Tour event outside Jackson, Miss.

"My best friend on the Tour is Brian Henninger," Cook said. "I was going to take three weeks off to prepare for this tournament, but when they told me I was paired with Brian, I said, `OK, I'm playing. …

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