Golf

Paducah's Rick Cochran rallies to win NGA Tour event in Georgetown

Rick Cochran III of Paducah won for the first time in 20 starts on the NGA Tour.
Rick Cochran III of Paducah won for the first time in 20 starts on the NGA Tour.

Rick Cochran III shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday to win the NGA Tour's Cherry Blossom Classic in Georgetown.

It's the fourth time in five years that a Kentucky native has won the tournament. Brandon Brown of Shelbyville won last year and Mark Blakefield of Maysville won in 2008 and 2010.

Cochran, a Heath High School graduate who played in college at Middle Tennessee State, had three top-three finishes in the first eight events this season, but this was his first victory.

"It's all about confidence," said Cochran, finished with rounds of 71-63-65-66 for a 23-under 265 total. "In the back of my mind, I've always felt like I could win out here, but until you do it there's still that doubt."

Cochran, the nephew of Champions Tour star Russ Cochran, started the final round four shots behind Nemanja Savic, but he closed the gap to one shot with four birdies in a row on Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7.

"When I shot 63 in the second round, I made five birdies in row, so I knew I could make them in bunches," Cochran said. "I nearly had a hole in one on No. 4 and hit it between eight and 12 feet on the other holes and made the putts. It was an important streak because it gave me a shot early in the round and I didn't have to worry about making a lot of birdies late."

After the birdie streak, Cochran was unable to put any birdies on the scorecard over the next eight holes, but he didn't put any bogeys on it either.

Savic, who made just two bogeys over the first three rounds, reached 23-under par with a birdie on No. 12, but he stumbled with a double bogey on No. 14 and Cochran made the most of the opening.

Cochran birdied No. 16 to reach 22 under and added another birdie on No. 17 to take the outright lead at 23-under par. After a stress-free par on No. 18, Cochran headed for the clubhouse with the lead.

"I was playing a little conservative during that par stretch, trying not to mess up," Cochran said. "I told myself not to worry about the money or the win and just play golf. I had a good number on 16 and hit it close, then I made a lucky birdie on 17."

Following the double bogey, Savic rebounded with a birdie on No. 16 and had a chance to reach 23 under on the final hole, but he failed to convert his birdie try, giving Cochran his first Pro Series win in his 20th start.

"I'm not going to lie, I was fighting back the tears," Cochran said. "I've been in that situation before and I all but choked. I had to call my mom and dad to let them know I won because they were there for me when I struggled to finish the deal."

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