Cook leads Watson Blackmar in Champions finale


Champions TourSONOMA, Calif. – John Cook shot a tournament-record 10-under 62 on Friday to take a three-stroke lead over Tom Watson and Phil Blackmar after the second round of the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

Cook, the Administaff Small Business Classic winner two weeks ago in Texas, had 10 birdies and needed just 23 putts to match his career-best round and reach 14-under 130 for the tournament.

Watson, the surprising runner-up at the British Open, hit every green in regulation and shot a 64. Blackmar, who shared the first-round lead with Jeff Sluman, had five birdies on the back nine for a 67. Blackmar won the AT&T Championship in San Antonio last week for his first senior title.

Sluman (69), Brad Bryant (67) and Russ Cochran (66) were 9 under.

Season points leader Loren Roberts struggled most of the afternoon and had five bogeys en route to a 73 that dropped him into a tie for 25th at 1 under.

Bernhard Langer, who began the tournament in third place behind Roberts, had a 65 to move into a tie for seventh at 7 under. Jay Haas (68) was 5 under, and Fred Funk (69) followed at 4 under. The four are the only players left in contention to win the $1 million annuity.

Cook shot a 68 on Thursday, then opened the second round with three straight birdies to move ahead of Blackmar for the early lead. After two pars, Cook made consecutive birdies on the par-4 sixth hole and the par-3 seventh to move three strokes ahead at 9 under.

But Watson, the 60-year-old Hall of Famer, pulled within range with three straight birdies. Playing two groups ahead of Cook, Watson moved to 10 under with a birdie on the 587-yard, par-5 13th, then hit a soft 7-iron within 12 feet of the pin on the 18th and made the putt for another birdie.

That left Watson temporarily tied with Cook atop the leaderboard but that changed before Watson could finish signing autographs outside the scorer’s tent.

Cook, who was just 1 under on the back nine during the first round, birdied the par-5 16th then closed with short birdie putts on 17 and 18.

Before Cook and Watson shot to the top of the leaderboard, Langer was making his push toward the top after opening the tournament with a disappointing 72. Langer stayed at even par early then birdied seven of his final nine holes, including the final four.

With Roberts struggling for the second straight day, Langer was in good shape to become just the second player to overtake the points leader for the title during the season-ending tournament. Langer is 348 points behind Roberts, and Haas is 602 back. The players will receive a point for every $500 earned, making a victory worth 884.

Langer leads the tour with four victories and $2,033,451. Roberts, a three-time winner, is second on the money list with $1,854,613.