May 13, 2014
By Michael Curet, PGATOUR.COM
- Case Cochran made a hole-in-one in a sudden-death playoff to qualify for the HP Byron Nelson Championship. (Courtesy Texas A&M)
Case Cochran was 12 years old when he last had a hole-in-one, during a casual round at his home course in Paducah, Kentucky, with his cousin. The stakes were a little higher in Tuesday’s qualifier for the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
This hole-in-one earned him a spot in his first PGA TOUR event. Cochran used a 7-iron to ace the 152-yard, par-3 16th at The Lakes at Castle Hills in Lewisvlle, Texas, and earn the final qualifying spot for the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Cochran, 25, is the son of Russ Cochran, a winner on both the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour. Russ Cochran won his lone PGA TOUR title at the 1991 Western Open. He has won five times on the Champions Tour, including the 2011 Senior British Open.
Case Cochran turned professional approximately a year ago after graduating from Texas A&M. He is No. 4 on the Adams Pro Tour’s money list after finishing runner-up twice this season.
The qualifier finished Tuesday after weather suspended the previous day’s play. The last group came in with a 68 and 69, forcing a 4-for-3 playoff between Cochran, Jason Allred, Chris Thompson, and Chris Parra, who all shot 69. Will Strickler was medalist after shooting 68.
Allred sunk a 40-foot birdie on the playoff’s first hole, No. 10, to qualify. Thompson stuck a wedge within a foot of the hole on No. 12 for a tap-in birdie to qualify. That left Cochan and Parra standing.
Cochran missed a birdie putt from less than 6 feet on No. 15. It hardly fazed him as he approached No. 16.
“I was frustrated but at the same time, I said let’s just hit a good one here,” Cochran said. “Chris (Parra) hit first. The wind got his and he came up short in the middle of the green. The pin was back over the ridge and I couldn’t see it from the tee.”
When Cochran played the hole Monday with the wind at his back, he hit a 9-iron to 4 feet. He grabbed a 7-iron Tuesday because the hole was playing dead into the wind and uphill.
“I punched it under the wind and it looked like it landed in front of pin,” said Cochran, “but we couldn’t see it. There were about 15 people on the tee watching us and that’s it. On the green, there was no reaction because there was nobody there.
“As I walking up, I’m still in grind mode thinking about making a good stroke and a good putt. I walk up and there’s no ball and a ball mark five feet in front of the hole.”
PGA TOUR scoring official Johnny Andrews said the only thing he’s ever seen like this was when Japan’s Isao Aoki holed out from the rough 130 yards away in 1983 to defeat Jack Renner at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Aoki’s final-hole eagle gave him a one-shot victory. “That was pretty amazing,” said Andrews. “I’ve never seen anything like this either.”
Once reality set in, Cochran called his dad and fiancé, Ashton Crocker, who often caddies for him but was working Tuesday in Dallas.
"He told me he didn't see it go in. Once he got on the green, he saw his ball mark 6 feet from the hole and had a good feeling. Sure enough, it was in the hole."
Cochran was unsuccessful in his only other attempt in a Monday qualifie,r at the age of 17 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis. In March, with his dad on the bag, he missed qualifying by one stroke at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open.
“He’s the whole reason I’m in golf,” Cochran said about his father. “It’s nice that we can help each other out. He’s still playing in his career and golf is something we talk about every day.”
"He's super excited,” Russ Cochran said. “He's been playing well on the Adams Tour and I knew he was feeling good about his game. It will be his first PGA TOUR event and he's pumped up."