ONE LEFTY FINISHED SECOND at the British Open. That would be Phil Mickelson, whose final-round charge fizzled on the back nine. But the following week a lesser-known lefty won the senior British. The Champions Tour’s Russ Cochran claimed his first professional major at Walton Heath in England last Sunday.
Can Cochran win consecutive majors by capturing the U.S. Senior Open title at Inverness this week? Bernhard Langer performed the remarkable feat a year ago.
PGATour.com contributor Vartan Kupelian thinks Cochran can do it. Kupelian ranks the veteran lefty No. 1 in his U.S. Senior Open Power Rankings.
“Now that he’s [Cochran] back and fit again after a wrist injury,” Kupelian writes, “a back-to-back isn’t out of the question. Consider that Cochran’s first two Champions Tour victories, in 2010, came in successive tournaments last September in Korea and North Carolina.”
Cochran, a journeyman who won just once in 26 years on the PGA Tour, is flourishing on the second-chance tour. The 52-year-old Kentucky native has three victories since joining the Champions Tour in February 2009.
Cochran will face tough competition at Inverness. Other players have been knocking at the major door, including John Cook and Mark Calcavecchia. Calc perhaps only needs a good putting week to kick the door in. Troubled by a thumb injury this season, defending champion Langer might be rounding into form after last week’s T12 at the Senior British Open that included a pair of 69s on the weekend.
As Kupelian reports, there are five players in the U.S. Senior Open field who have won at Inverness dating back to 1973: Craig Stadler, Hale Irwin, Bob Tway, Paul Azinger (update: Azinger has withdrawn) and Bruce Lietzke. Inverness has hosted four U.S. Opens, two U.S. Senior Opens, two PGA Championships and one U.S. Amateur.
ESPN and NBC have the TV coverage.
−The Armchair Golfer