News & ToursOctober 31, 2009

One fine day is followed by another

SONOMA, Calif. -- So much for the theory that it is hard to follow a great round with another one the next day.

John Cook had a handsome encore for his second-round 62 at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, shooting a 67 Saturday to extend his lead to six strokes with one round to play at Sonoma GC.

There doesn't look like much can go wrong with Cook's simple swing, which 1964 U.S. Open champion Ken Venturi began shaping when Cook was only 14, and nearly everything has gone right this week for the now 52-year-old.

At 19-under 197, Cook matched Jack Nicklaus' record total for the first 54 holes in a 72-hole Champions Tour event (1990 Mazda Senior Players Championship) and has the largest lead going into the final day of a four-round event since Jay Haas at the CSCC in 2005.

Cook has bludgeoned the par 5s, playing them nine under, and hit 45 of 54 greens in regulation. Dinner was going to taste better after he scrambled for a par on the 18th hole Saturday after having to pitch out of a fairway bunker.

Cook's challengers -- Russ Cochran (13 under), Tom Watson and Brad Bryant (12 under) and Larry Mize, Jeff Sluman and Phil Blackmar (11 under) -- will have to do something special to prevent Cook from claiming his second victory of 2009.

Unless one of the chasers puts up a great round, merely a good one by Cook might be enough to secure his fourth career senior win.

*-- Bill Fields *

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