Matt Jones has been the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2010. He is also a feature writer for Hawgs Illustrated magazine and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in journalism.
Cook qualifies for PGA tournament
Arkansas senior Austin Cook lines up his putt on the 14th green during the final round of the NCAA men's golf regional on Saturday, May 18, 2013, at The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Former Arkansas golfer Austin Cook has qualified for an event on the PGA Tour.
Cook shot a 5-under 65 Sunday to earn one of four qualifying spots in this week's FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis. The bogey-free round at Windyke Country Club included five birdies. Cook also shot a 65 in Friday's pre-qualifier.
"It was solid," Cook said. "If I missed the green, obviously I was able to get up and down. I felt confident striking the ball no matter if it was a drive, an iron shot or a putt. I was just really relaxed out there and focused, and able to put in a good round. I was very comfortable."
Cook said he had never played at Windyke but felt good about the course after a practice round last Wednesday. He had spent time playing the Adams Tour winter series earlier this year after taking time off from golf last fall to focus on school.
The Jonesboro native is familiar with TPC Southwind, where the tournament will be played beginning Thursday. Cook played in a tournament at the course as a sophomore in high school and has made trips to the St. Jude Classic as a spectator in the past.
"It's been seven years since I've played it but I made the trip over here last year and still remember the layout," Cook said.
Playing his first PGA event so close to his hometown will be special for Cook, who said this was his first time to attempt qualify for an event out the tour.
"It's going to be exciting to look behind the ropes and see all these familiar faces," Cook said. "I'll be a little nervous on the first tee, but hopefully I can just calm myself for 20 seconds and hit a good drive, and then start having some fun.
"I just want to make the cut, make it to the weekend and feel good about my game when I leave the course Sunday."
The first two rounds of the St. Jude Classic are scheduled to be shown on The Golf Channel. Former Arkansas golfers David Lingmerth, John Daly and Tag Ridings are also among this week's field.