Cochran shoots 65 in return
Russ Cochran made six consecutive birdies and shot a 7 under 65
to take the first-round lead at the First Tee Open on Friday.
Cochran had seven birdies overall and played a bogey free round
in his return to the Champions Tour after suffering a wrist injury
that led to a two-month layoff. Cochran was only 1 under through 11
holes before going on his run of birdies at the Pebble Beach Golf
”I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Cochran, who is
ninth on the money list this year. ”I just haven’t been pushing
it. I’ll know tomorrow how it feels but right now it feels fine.
Obviously when you’re making putts and hitting good shots, it sure
helps it feel a lot better.”
David Eger was one shot back at 66, followed by Brad Bryant,
Morris Hatalsky and Jim Thorpe at 67. Ten others were tied at
Defending tournament champion Ted Schulz struggled all afternoon
and was at 1 over 73.
The three-day event is being played on two 18-hole courses on
the Monterey Peninsula. Most of the low scores came at the
6,365-yard Del Monte while Cochran opened on the 6,871-yard Pebble
A two-time winner on the 50-and-under tour in 2010, Cochran had
three top-five finishes in seven events before injuring his right
wrist hitting a divot during the second round of the Liberty Mutual
Legends of Golf tournament in late April.
It’s the same wrist that Cochran previously had surgery on, and
although he finished the tournament and played 18 holes at an
appearance the following day, it ultimately knocked him out
competition for a while. Cochran eventually met with a specialist
in New York but played golf only sparingly over the next month and
not on the tour.
The layoff obviously helped.
Cochran, who shot a 65 in the final round of this tournament in
2010, started on the back nine and hit his opening tee shot into a
bunker but made a nice recovery and sank a 10-foot birdie putt. He
stayed at 1 under at the turn, then narrowly missed a birdie putt
on the par 5 No. 2 before storming to the top of the leaderboard
with his stellar run.
The six consecutive birdies matches the best streak on tour this
”After playing nine or 10 holes without a birdie, all of a
sudden they just started falling in from everywhere,” Cochran
said. ”If you get a couple under or par or see a couple putts go,
then the golf course and the greens especially look a little
different to you. I won’t say I’m shocked that I played that good.
My job is going to be trying to continue to follow it up, not
(just) this week.”
Eger, who teamed with Mark McNulty to win the Legends event,
moved into contention with five birdies over his final eight
”I struggled the first 10 holes and didn’t hit many greens,”
said Eger, a runner-up to Tom Watson at the Senior PGA Championship
in May after losing a one-hole playoff to the Hall of Famer. ”Then
starting on 11 I started playing much better. The good scores are
obviously going to be over here at Del Monte.”
Bryant overcame a bogey on No. 7 and closed his round with an
eagle on the par 5 ninth.
Jeff Sluman, a two-time winner of this tournament, shot a 68 and
was joined by Mike Reid, Steve Lowery, Jay Haas, Robin Freeman,
Mark Calcavecchia, Bill Glasson, Jim Gallagaher Jr., D.A. Weibring
and Jay Don Blake.
John Cook, winner of the Montreal Championship last week, was
six strokes behind Cochran at 71. Cook is the only one of the top
four players on the Charles Schwab Cup points list playing