LUTZ, Fla. (AP) — First they battled the wind, now they’ll battle each other.
John Cook shot a 6-under 65 take take a one-stroke lead at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am on Saturday. Cook sits at 11-under, one ahead of Russ Cochran. The first-day leader shot a 3-under 68.
“I left a few putts out there, but (I shot) a 65 like it or not, and that’s just fine with me,” Cook said. “But that’s what we’re out here for. We’re champions and we like to win golf tournaments.”
Jay Don Blake is third, three strokes back.
Cook used accuracy to climb the leaderboard, as he hit 13 of 14 fairways in regulation and birdied four of the back nine holes, including three straight from 12 to 14. He missed a chance at a birdie on 18 when his eight-foot putt came up inches short.
“I can be kind of streaky when it comes to birdies, but I’m glad to be streaky that way and not the other way,” Cook said. “I’m pretty glad about just one bogey and it was a bad one on a three-putt. I don’t like making bogeys because I can’t handle the stress.”
He is fourth in the Charles Schwab Cup standings and has finished in the top 25 in his four Champions events this season. That included winning the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in January. Cook has won at least one Champions event since joining the circuit in 2007. Cook also finished third at the PGA Tours Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun in February.
Cochran, who is fifth in the standings, just two points behind Cook, has finished in the top 10 in four of his five Champions Tour events this season and won twice in 2010.
“My job is to get out there and attack that course,” Cochran said. “I know I’m not going to beat John unless I have a good day. I stayed with my lines fairly well, even though (in the past) I’ve been all over the charts.”
Blake, who played on qualifier status for most of the 2010 season, even though he had seven top-10 finishes, including a third place finish, has not had a professional win since 1991, when he won the Shearson Lehman Brothers Open.
That same year was Cochran’s last professional, where he overcame a five-stroke deficit over eight holes to beat Greg Norman at the 1991 Centel Western Open.
“Just being out here and having a chance 20 years later, having a career and then having a chance to make another career (with Champions),” Blake said, “I mean, how do you not say it’s fun and enjoyable?”