An Interview with: RUSS COCHRAN
KELLY ELBIN: Russ Cochran, in with 5 under par 66 today. Tied with fellow Kentuckian Kenny Perry at 7 under par midway through the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Russ, able to spend a lot of time with a good friend and play some good golf. Must have been an enjoyable day.
RUSS COCHRAN: Yeah, it's a great couple of days. It was nice to play. There's a kind of a third thing there or fourth thing too involved in that. My son caddies for me and one of my best friends caddies for Kenny Perry and one of Kenny's best friends, too, his name's Freddie Sanders.
So we had a good time out there. And, shoot, when you throw in Forsman, probably the one of the best guys the TOUR's ever seen, you know it was a nice couple of days.
KELLY ELBIN: Could you start with go through your card briefly. You had a lot of activity there. You started with a birdie on a tough opening hole on 10.
RUSS COCHRAN: I did. Kind of felt like I hit the lottery a little bit on 10 there. I hit a good drive and hit a 5 iron to about four feet. Didn't really hit a good putt and kind of snuck it in the side and it was, any time you birdie that hole, you really feel like you've done something good.
So I think the main thing was, was I think that this round I had an opportunity to kind of get in a groove and get in a rhythm. Yesterday I didn't hit it very good, hit a lot of mishits, a lot of bad shots. A lot of missed fairways. And hung in there and hit some winners coming down the stretch and made a great putt on 17 over there for eagle.
So I think today after finishing well yesterday, when I didn't really play that well, I think it gave me a big boost and today I was right on the money. Felt like I played a pretty good round. So I go to 12 there and hit a shot in there, a 7 iron I think it was to about four feet there.
So good shot there. You want to roll through there?
KELLY ELBIN: Yeah, sure. Bogey on 15. What happened there?
RUSS COCHRAN: I don't even remember, man.
KELLY ELBIN: How about just the birdies.
RUSS COCHRAN: Yeah, let's do the birdies. 17, I hit a good drive and I hit a hybrid in there about maybe 30 feet below the hole and 2 putted. That was cool.
And then I hit a good drive or a good driver off the tee on 18. Hit a 6 iron to about 15 feet right behind the hole.
Kind of a funny thing there, I wasn't feeling that great with my stroke and my putter, so I had a putter grip like this, so I just put my finger down the shaft and my son said he thought I was crazy. And I rolled it right in. So I putted that way the rest of the day.
So I went to 1 and hit kind of a poor approach shot, an 8 iron in there. And I hit a probably a 45 footer, 40 footer on that hole. Made that one.
So that was good. The third hole, I hit a, I don't know what it was. I guess an 8 iron in there to about four feet, five feet. Made that.
Then on the fourth hole, I hit a driver and a hybrid on the green and 2 putted from about maybe 40 feet there.
Came to No. 6 with a bogey. That hole's so tough, I improved the shot from yesterday actually on that hole. So I don't really know thousand play it. When I stand on the tee, I don't feel tremendously comfortable. I don't think anyone does. I hit the green today and 3 putted. And I came away with a bogey there.
KELLY ELBIN: Let's open it up for questions.
Q. Kenny, I wondered how big the Kentucky contingent is here and what that means to you and, I mean, that's not very far away. I imagine you have some people here. And is there a comfort level there playing this golf course?
RUSS COCHRAN: Well, I don't think it translates to the golf course, but, yeah, it sure was nice to look in the crowd and see some old friends. I've spent a lot of time in Jupiter, Florida and last week I had the opportunity to go to Paducah and I didn't do it, I stayed and worked on my game. My game hadn't been very good.
And I know probably some people from Paducah were a little upset that I wasn't back for some get togethers and that type of stuff. But I love the city dearly, I plan on going back there more and more when I kind of get away from the golf part of it.
I think it's always great, you know, any time we're anywhere close to Kentucky there we, it seems like Kenny and I have good followings. And you don't know how proud that makes us feel.
First of all, too, when you play well, you kind of feel like you're, like they're enjoying themselves and I think that's a good feeling as well.
Q. Even though the finish of this golf course can be long and tough, it seems like the danger in this golf course tends to come more in the middle of the course starting at 6 and throw in 9 and 10. When you get to the weekend and you're playing for a championship, whether it's staging on Saturday or even on Sunday, can you talk a little bit about handling the dangers and navigating this course in that sense?
RUSS COCHRAN: Well, I think that's true. I think that I would throw the par 3s in there as well. The par 3s are extremely difficult. I think that when they ... and I think there are a number of holes that can play tremendously difficult, depending upon the pin placements. These greens are very severe, so, for instance, a hole that may be playing super tough with a pin one day, maybe playing quite a bit easier the next day.
But I think you're right, although I would say that you speak of dangers, a lot of those holes come right at you. So the ninth hole, the tenth hole. Not so much the sixth. There's a lot of danger and you don't really know where to go there.
But the tenth hole comes right at you. You got to pipe a drive, hit a heck of a second shot and you got to roll it. Because there is a good chance your ball's not going to end up exactly where you want it to.
So I would say with the fact that the course comes right at you, there's no secrets. You jump up and you just try to hammer it right down the middle. And then you try to ... you don't want to, you can't pick a around at, let's say the 10th hole because it plays so long. So you try to beat one down there if you can, find the fairway and have as little as you can into that green.
But you're right, I think the par 5s have shown some vulnerability and the first couple of days here anyway. And not to say they're easy, but if you were going to get something it would be this. And I would say the par 3s are the toughest thing about this course.
Q. Earlier you mentioned changing your grip on the putter. How often, if ever, do you fiddle with something in the middle of a competitive round?
RUSS COCHRAN: You know, I don't think you probably should do that. I just didn't feel comfortable kind of the way I was putting. I snuck a couple in and missed a couple. I had a 3 putt over there on, I don't know, one of the holes. I kind of, it bothered me a little bit and I thought, you know what, we had a little time and I was making a couple practice strokes and I had done that before, putted that way before and I thought I'll go ahead and give it a shot.
But I think if it were something totally different, you wouldn't even think about doing it, but because I had done it before, it didn't feel too bad. And when I rolled one in on the back of 18 there, it was really nice.
Q. Will you keep it going?
RUSS COCHRAN: Yeah, I will. I'm going to go ahead and stick with it. I wouldn't feel bad about switching back probably, but I think I'll stick with it the rest of the week.
Q. Kenny was just in here and he said how you guys get along so great. But you're like polar opposites. He's the listener and you're the one who does all the talking. I just wonder how much that have goes on during the round when you're playing with him? Do you do a lot of talking?
RUSS COCHRAN: Well, I don't feel bad about saying some things. We have so many friends, mutual friends and so many things have happened that we both know about. So I'll just say something, a lot of times I'm just saying it to Ryan or saying it out loud or whatever. Kenny knows kind of how to take it. He knows that, to be honest with you, I'm the kind of guy that I'm going to pull for Kenny. I know Kenny wants to play as hard as he can. And I like to play as hard as I can. But I truthfully do pull for Kenny. And I always have.
Like I said, his caddie is one of my best friends, so it's not, there's, I'm just kind of who I am and he's pretty quiet. He likes to dig in and get after it. I certainly wouldn't try to throw him off his game and I don't think he would do that for me or to me either.
Q. Is your son filling in this week as caddie?
RUSS COCHRAN: No.
Q. Or full time?
RUSS COCHRAN: He works full time for me, yeah. Ryan is his name. He's worked probably, it started about, well when I first came out here my son, my second son was, Reed, was deferring a year for law school. And he caddied for me. And then about midway through the next year, my son was or my oldest son Ryan was working somewhere else and Reed told him, hey, you ought to jump on with dad, if he'll have you or whatever, I guess. And he's been kind of working for me ever since.
Q. Kenny mentioned y'all played a lot of golf together and the comfort level of knowing each other so well. And he also mentioned that the shot shapes that you hit, he plays primarily the draw, you play a fade. How much more of a comfort level is it knowing somebody else's game so well, plus seeing their ball flight on certain shots particularly on a golf course like this?
RUSS COCHRAN: I'm not so sure necessarily the ball flight. I do know what he's doing and how he's going about it. But there is a continuity with Kenny and he has a tremendous rhythm. When he's hitting it well, he lines up and makes that nice big turn, not rushed, hammers it right down the fairway. And it makes you want to do it too.
So the only thing I have to watch out for is Kenny hits it a long way and I got to be careful not to, you know when someone hammers it you want to jump up and swing a little harder than you should. So I try not to do that with him.
But, yeah, I think that I can probably, could probably tell you what club he's going to hit and how he's going to try to hit it and he could probably do the same with me.
But as far as ... you know it works opposite of that too. In other words, if we don't get it going in the right direction, it's not ... you don't get to feed off each other. So that's another reason to pull for him and hope he gets going in the right direction kind of try to feed off him as well.
Q. Only in golf probably two guys who played high school golf with and against each other could find themselves in a big sporting event in their 50s doing it again. Could you just talk about that scenario.
RUSS COCHRAN: Yeah, you know, I think it's really a neat thing. I think that we have ... golf takes you so many places, there are so many story lines involved in it, Kenny is from Franklin, Kentucky, but spent time in Paducah, I'm sure he told you. Ands I was, I think, three grades ahead of him, but two years. And I got to see him ... I was a couple years older and those were huge years. A senior in high school maybe versus a freshman or whatever. Three years. And so I got see him ... I went to college and then I would come back in the summer and see the progress that he had made, the progression he had made, and it was amazing.
First of all his body and then his clarity with what he was trying to do in golf. Turning to an aggressive player. He's one of the more aggressive players that the TOUR's seen probably. When he gets hot.
Calcavecchia and John Huston and of course Lanny Watkins and guys like that, but Kenny is, Kenny will just run it right down, right down the course's throat.
So I got to see all that progression and he kind of turned my head a little bit, to be honest, because when I left him, he was a sophomore to be I guess in high school and then the next time I saw him I think was at a college event in West Virginia maybe or somewhere, virgin yeah, and he walked across the green and he looks like he does now. Six two and a man.
So it's been fun to watch. We're tied in families and everything. We're not ... we don't go to dinner that much and we don't spend a lot of time together, but we have always pulled for each other and continue to do so.
KELLY ELBIN: Do you care to guess how many rounds of golf the two of you might have played during your lifetime.
RUSS COCHRAN: You know, I don't know that. Couple of his best friends, like one of his best friends and me a guy named Mark Page, we have probably played, oh, we played hundreds together probably and Kenny was, either, you know, in half of those, the group ahead or the group behind or whatever or with us or whatever.
So I think it's just ... you know, he designed a golf course in Franklin, Kentucky, and he designed it after the course we grew up on in Paducah, Kentucky. And I think it was a kind of a haven for all the kids that liked golf and we spent from 8 o'clock in the morning to 8 o'clock at night. So we had plenty of putting contests and played a lot of holes. That's for sure.
Q. As you heard we talked a little bit about your and Kenny's friendship. I asked him to compare your two personalities. So now's your chance.
RUSS COCHRAN: You know, I think he had it right. He mentioned it earlier. Kenny's a kind of a quiet guy when it comes to probably he's task oriented and is trying to get into his thing and is pretty quiet and likes to get after it and go do his job. And I talk with my son a lot out there. It's not, I'm no Lee Trevino, believe me. I'm kind of quiet and I keep my head down and that type stuff. But I talk with Ryan a lot and if something comes up, I like to, I'll mention it or talk about it. I think Kenny probably sees me as a, I don't know, I wouldn't say the word, but probably a story teller or, you know, that kind of thing. And that's fine. We get together, we do an outing together for the club we grew up on in Paducah. And there's a lot of times I'll get the mic and I'll start talking and I just ask Kenny questions and we just kind of go back and forth. So I get rolling. You don't want to ... I can't shut up, I guess.
KELLY ELBIN: What's the name of the course where you two grew up.
RUSS COCHRAN: Paxton Park.
KELLY ELBIN: Russ Cochran, tied with Kenny Perry after two rounds at the Senior PGA. Thank you.
RUSS COCHRAN: Thank you.
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