PALM DESERT — John Cook said he would come out firing birdies in Sunday's final round of the Bob Hope Chrysler tournament at Bermuda Dunes.
That's exactly what he did, making six of them en route to a 66 to finish 90 holes at 335, 25 strokes under par.
It should have been enough for the young man from nearby Rancho Mirage to win his third tour event in seven years. The whole family was on hand to celebrate--wife Jan with 8-day-old Jason and daughters Kristin and Courtney, father Jim, mother Lyda and sister Cathy.
The only trouble was that Donnie Hammond, a 28-year-old touring pro from Daytona Beach, Fla., had the same idea. He came out shooting birdies, too, and when he made five of them in the last six holes for 66-335, he and Cook were tied.
For the fifth straight year, 90 holes weren't enough to determine a winner and the five-day Hope tournament went into overtime.
Hammond, by now accustomed to making birdies, made another one on the first playoff hole to reject Cook's bid for a third straight playoff win.
In Cook's two previous wins, he beat Hale Irwin, Bobby Clampett, Ben Crenshaw and Barney Thompson in the 1981 Crosby Pro-Am and Johnny Miller in the 1983 Canadian Open.
The win, worth $108,000 and the use of a new Chrysler for a year, was Hammond's first since joining the tour in 1979 after graduating from Jacksonville University with a degree in psychology.
Hammond's wife, Kathy, was not here. She was home in Daytona Beach watching on television. Hammond, whose hobby is astronomy, spent the night before his biggest win by studying the stars from the Palms to Pines highway.
"I had a good Italian dinner at Raphael's with Jeff Grygiel, a buddy of mine on the tour, and after dinner we drove up Highway 74 to talk over what I needed to do today. It was a great night for stars and I picked out the Big Dipper and some other constellations. I think it helped me, just talking about it. I hadn't come close to winning in three years. I decided that even if I shot 76 today, I was going to go for the win. That's what I did."
After both Hammond and Cook had birdied the 18th hole Sunday to stay two strokes ahead of third-place finisher Jodie Mudd, they took off for No. 14, a straightaway 375-yard par 4, to start the playoff.
Both drove in the fairway, one on either side, leaving themselves 90-yard second shots with a sand wedge. Hammond hit first and bounced his up to within 12 feet of the hole. Cook, with a huge bunker between his ball and the hole, hit a low wedge that bounced off the slope of the green and stopped beyond the cup in the fringe.
Cook's chip nearly holed out but he settled for a par 4. Hammond's putt started off to the right and did not appear to have a chance to fall, but it slowed and fell sideways into the cup for the winning birdie.
"I had a good angle into the hole, easier than John had because I had more green to work with," Hammond said. "I really don't know how I felt when it dropped. I guess a feeling of satisfaction, more than anything else. It (his first win) had been so long coming."
Cook said the bunker offered no problem, but he didn't get his wedge high enough in the air to stop the ball on the green.
"I had the identical shot earlier in the week and put the ball six feet from the hole," Cook said. "This time I didn't quite get it up enough."
Second money for Cook was $64,800, more than he made in 29 tournaments last year.
Long tournaments apparently have a special appeal to Hammond. After spending three years on the Space Coast mini-tour in Florida, Hammond earned his PGA playing card in 1982 when he was medalist by an unbelievable 14 strokes in a 6-day, 108-hole tournament.
Hammond's winning surge here started on No. 13, a 554-yard par 5, when he was three strokes back of Cook.
"I knew I had to get something going, but I played No. 13 smart. I hit a 5-iron for my second shot, so I could hit a full wedge instead of having to ease up on a shorter shot."
Hammond's wedge left him a 12-foot birdie putt, which he made to close within two of Cook.
"I was lucky on No. 14. I drove into the woods but I had a clean shot to the green and the ball was sitting up where I could hit it. I left myself a putt about 30 feet downhill. When I made that, it gave me a real lift."
On No. 15, a 391-yard par 4, Hammond continued his string of birdies by hitting a pitching wedge for his second shot, leaving himself a 10-foot putt, which he made to move into a tie with Cook, who had missed two straight birdie putts by inches.
The surge ended abruptly when Hammond bogeyed No. 16.
"I knew I was tied for the lead when I got to the tee," Hammond said. "I pushed my tee shot and missed the green with my second shot. About all I can say is that I was still confident when I got up to the 17th tee and told myself to put a smooth swing on the ball or I wouldn't have a chance to win."
Hammond put the smooth swing on a 2-iron on the 208-yard hole and hit "my best shot of the week." The ball stopped five feet from the hole for an easy birdie.