Mention the name Cook around Oceana and basketball is likely to come to mind first.
That may not be the case going forward.
Tuesday the name Cook, Kerri-Anne Cook to be exact, became associated around the state of West Virginia with the title “championship golfer.”
A rising sophomore at Westside High School, Cook made that possible by winning the 2021 West Virginia Girls Jr. Amateur Championship on the first hole of the sudden death playoff at Bridgeport Country Club.
The dramatic win came over the defending champion, Savannah Hawkins.
“I was pretty confident starting the day. I felt like if I went out and played well that it would be a close match between me and Savannah,” Cook said.
Heading into the final round of the two-day event, Cook trailed Hawkins by one shot.
Cook would twice fall behind by two shots in the first five holes before she rallied with two straight birdies on holes seven and eight. Coupled with a bogey from Hawkins, the twosome headed to the back nine all even.
Hawkins appeared to be in big trouble after hole 13 when Cook birdied and the defending champion made double-bogey.
However, Hawkins would rally to even things just two holes later in the back and forth match
Cook again took the lead with a birdie on 17, only to see Hawkins answer with a birdie on the final hole to send the championship battle to a sudden death playoff.
“I really didn’t know where I stood while I was playing,” Cook said. “I was just going hole by hole. I knew it was going to be close.”
The drama was far from over from the two young standouts.
Tuesday was not the first time that Cook and Hawkins, a Hurricane native, had shared the links together. The two had built a solid friendship over the years playing on the Callaway Junior Tour.
“We have played together since we were about eight or nine years old,” Cook said.
Going back to the par-5 18th hole to start the playoff, both players stood roughly 50 yards from the green for their third shots.
“I hit my shot onto the green about 40 feet away from the hole. Savannah hit her shot about eight feet from the hole,” Cook said.
Things looked even more bleak for Cook when her approach putt came to rest outside of Hawkins’ ball, about 12 feet short.
Cook never waivered, knocking in the 12-footer for the much needed par.
“I was just trying to get it close and two-putt. I had putted pretty well all day, so I was feeling alright, but you never know outside of ten feet. It felt pretty good when it went in,” Cook recalled.
In one final wild twist, the championship then went to Cook when Hawkins three-putted for a bogey.
Cook felt her win came in large part to the experience gained over the years on the Callaway Junior Tour.
“It has definitely helped me get used to tournament play and how to react under pressure,” Cook explained.
So far this season, Cook has played 12 Callaway events, winning six, including the event played last month on the same course at Bridgeport Country Club.
“She is a great young lady and a very hard worker. She is very respectful and plays the game like it is supposed to be played,” Westside head golf coach Jeremy Warrix said. “She stays calm in big moments and doesn’t let her emotions show.
With the biggest win of her young career in hand, Cook now looks to finish strong on the Callaway Junior Tour. She will continue to make her case for Player of the Year at the Tour Championship at Parkersburg Country Club on July 26 and the season finale on July 28, played on the Meadows Course at The Greenbrier.