Course record gives Cochran Senior Players lead

By Associated PressOctober 9, 2010, 1:05 am

Champions TourPOTOMAC, Md. – Buoyed by birdies on the first five holes, Russ Cochran shot a course-record 6-under 64 to take a one-shot lead at the Senior Players ChampionshipChampions Tour. Cochran, who will turn 52 at the end of this month, is also trying for his first major victory at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.

“We got it going early and then like you do a lot of times, you kind of hold on for dear life after that,” Cochran said. “But the start was great.”

Michael Allen remains second at 5 under after a second-round 67, and Mark O’Meara shot another 68 to stand alone at 4 under. First-round leader Tom Kite followed his first-round 67 with an even-par 70, leaving him tied with Jeff Sluman.

“The golf course is very difficult, and if you can play the weekend under par, you’re going to be in very good shape,” Sluman said after his second-round 67. “That’s what you work for.”

Loren Roberts and Jay Don Blake were five shots off the pace, while Mike Goodes and Joe Ozaki were tied for eighth, six shots behind. Champions Tour points leader Bernhard Langer shot 73, while rival Fred Couples withdrew from the tournament due to a back ailment.

Cochran, who had a long, workmanlike career on the PGA Tour, has broken through over the last month on the Champions Tour with wins at the Songdo Championship and the SAS Championship, a surge he credits to becoming a more aggressive player.

On Friday, Cochran put that practice in motion. Starting on the back nine, he attacked friendly pin placements and quickly established himself at the top of the leaderboard.

“We kind of decided today we were going to be a little more aggressive if we could because there’s not that many great bailouts,” Cochran said. “So we hit it pretty much at the flag. The more times you feel like you can step up and at least make that aggressive swing and try to stay with your line, I feel better about myself and my game.”

After his hot start, Cochran added a birdie at No. 2 and then took what the course gave him to finish his solid round.

“I’ve been streaky this year – it allows me to be a little more patient throughout the rest of the round,” Cochran said.

Sluman, who has played with Cochran for 20 years on both the PGA and Champions tours, has not been surprised at his friend’s recent resurgence.

“He’s playing with a lot of confidence and he’s freewheeling it out there,” Sluman said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize what kind of player he was. I knew right from the get-go how talented he was.”

Allen kept pace with Cochran for most of the day before a bogey at No. 7 dropped him into second place, where he hopes to make a move during the weekend play against a top five that boasts four major championship winners.

“It will be fun to go out and play those guys the next few days,” said Allen, who won the 2009 Senior PGA Championship. “It’s a challenging course and you can’t just get away with cheaping it around here.”

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."