Golf

Advice from Uncle Russ keeps Cochran cool on lead en route to Ky. Open crown

Rick Cochran accepted the trophy Thursday after holding on to win the 94th Kentucky Open at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green.
Rick Cochran accepted the trophy Thursday after holding on to win the 94th Kentucky Open at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green. Daily News

BOWLING GREEN — Rick Cochran III won the 94th Kentucky Open golf championship on Thursday, thanks in part to some good advice from his uncle, Champions Tour player Russ Cochran.

Rick was sitting on a four-shot lead after Wednesday's second round at The Club at Olde Stone, but it wasn't an altogether comfortable situation for the 26-year-old pro from Paducah.

"I've had probably a half-dozen to a dozen tournaments that I've been up in the lead, and then faltered in the last round," he said.

So when he talked to his uncle by phone on Wednesday, Russ offered some words to play by on Thursday.

"He said that Raymond Floyd, one of the greatest competitors of all time, said it best. (Floyd) was asked how he was able to win tournaments, and he said, 'I'm not afraid to lose.'

"That's what I kept telling myself today. I missed some putts early and could've easily gotten upset. But I didn't.

"I kept it in the back of my mind that this was my tournament to win, versus I don't want to lose. That really helped me down the stretch."

On a day when Olde Stone bared its teeth, with wind, gnarly rough and tough pin locations, Cochran shot a 2-over-par 74. Not great golf, but it was plenty good enough after he fired a 68 and 66 the first two days.

Cochran finished at 8-under 208, four shots ahead of pros Kris Maffet (72-71-69) and Patrick Newcomb (72-69-71) and University of Central Florida golfer and former Scott County standout Kyle Wilshire (69-71-72).

Former UK golfer Grover Justice tied for fifth. Defending champion Keith Ohr and West Jessamine senior Fred Allen Meyer were among those who tied for eighth.

Cochran, who won the 2005 State Amateur, earned $10,000 for winning the Kentucky Open (Uncle Russ never won the Open).

"It's a great accomplishment to win both," said Cochran, who played college golf at Middle Tennessee. "I've come a long way. To win this at this stage of my career is a pretty good feeling."

Cochran was never seriously challenged in the final round. His lead briefly dwindled to two, but most of the afternoon he was in front by at least three shots.

Jared Wolfe, a Louisville pro, started the day as Coch-ran's closest challenger. He was within two shots at the turn, but then came disaster: bogey, double bogey, quadruple bogey. He shot 77.

Justin Perry was also in the last group, and his dad, Champions Tour star Kenny Perry, was there to watch. But it wasn't Justin's day. He had a couple of four-putt greens and shot 76 to tie for 11th along with Wolfe.

Wilshire was seven behind when the final round began, but he had experience in making up ground on the last day. He tied for third in the Open last year thanks to a final-round 66.

"It just takes a mind-set to keep plugging along, especially on a course like this where the rough is such a penalty. I didn't do anything different. I wasn't any more aggressive. I just picked my spots and played pretty well."

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