''It's been a great couple of days,'' Cochran said after the pair each shot 5-under-66 on Friday. ''He's one of my best friends. We had a good time out there.''
Cochran and Perry had matching 69s in the opening round and they tied for the best round Friday. They bonded in high school in Paducah, a three-hour drive from St. Louis, and when they play together for the third straight day Saturday, the following is likely to grow.
''It's been pretty neat for me to play alongside him for the last two days and for both of us to play tremendous,'' Perry said. ''We play a lot together.''
The relationship is tight enough that Perry can joke that at dinners Cochran is ''like a woman'' with non-stop patter.
''He's got more stories. He's hilarious. He's so fun to be around, and I'm always the guy listening,'' Perry said. ''He controls everything when we're out.''
On the course, Cochran admires Perry's control, rhythm and power.
''The only thing I have to watch out for is Kenny hits it a long way,'' Cochran said. ''When someone hammers it you want to jump up and swing a little harder than you should.
''So, I try not to do that.''
Japan's Kiyoshi Murota was two strokes back after a 70. Jay Haas and Duffy Waldorf, tied for the lead after the first round, matched Loren Roberts at 4 under. Roberts had a 68, and Haas and Waldorf shot 72.
The 54-year-old Cochran tied for seventh in the 1992 PGA Championship at Bellerive, won by Nick Price. Cochran was tied for second after two rounds before falling back with a 76.
The left-hander began play on the back nine and had five birdies in a span of six holes, peaking at 8 under before a bogey on No. 6. He was proudest of a birdie on perhaps the most challenging hole on the course, the 477-yard par 4 at No. 10 with a creek guarding the green, hitting a 5-iron approach to about 4 feet.
''I kind of felt like I hit the lottery a little bit,'' Cochran said. ''Anytime you birdie that hole, you really feel like you've done something good.''
The 52-year-old Perry had five birdies in a bogey-free round, helped by a handful of 300-plus drives. Though somewhat new to the Champions Tour, he has been impressed by the consistency.
''They don't back up out here,'' Perry said. ''You've got to keep your foot on the gas pedal, keep making birdies.''
Waldorf had a rocky round with six bogeys and five birdies, and joked when he was asked for a recap, ''Oh great, my whole card we're going to go through.''
Defending champion Roger Chapman just made the cut at 4 over after a 74.
''I haven't played very well this week,'' Chapman said. ''So yeah, if I make the cut it's a bonus.''
Bernard Langer made a 12-stroke improvement with a 67 and also was 4 over, rebounding from an opening round marred by consecutive triple bogeys.
Georgia club pro Sonny Skinner, who was a stroke back after the first round, shot 73. He was among 10 players, including Tom Watson, at 2 under.