Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club



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Why is a 65-year-old golfer playing in this week's PGA Tour event?

April 24, 2024
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Phil Inglis

Since switching to a team format in 2017, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans has established itself as one of the PGA Tour's unique events. It's also the tournament you're most likely to see some unexpected faces.

Last year it was the combo of David Duval and John Daly playing together and finishing dead last by 12 shots. They would have finished even farther behind had Michael Thompson not been paired with a 43-year-old Army vet who had gone 0-for-26 making cuts on the GPro Tour. And long before Chase Koepka got his chance to play on LIV Golf, it was big bro Brooks who invited him to New Orleans to play.

That's because PGA Tour pros who qualify for the event can partner with anyone that has any sort of tour status—or anyone who receives a sponsor's exemption. Of course, usually, players partner with golfers who give them a chance to win. And to be fair to the Koepkas, they finished T-5 in the inaugural team event. But one puzzling name in the field this year stands out in particular.

That would be 65-year-old Russ Cochran. Hardcore golf fans will remember the lefty whose lone PGA Tour win came at the 1991 Western Open. His partner for this week's event, Eric Cole, was 3 years old at the time. So what's going on here?

Well, it turns out that Cochran is the father of Cole's caddie, Reed Cochran. So there you go, another family connection in a tournament that features three teams of brothers (Fitzpatricks, Hojgaards and Coodys). Reed caddied for Russ when Russ won the 2011 Senior Open Championship.

Cochran still plays on the senior circuit, but sparingly. He's made three starts this year with a T-48 as his best finish. The five-time PGA Tour Champions winner last won in 2013. That was also the last year Cochran played in a PGA Tour event, making the cut at the Sony Open.

On the flip side, Cole is not someone who plays sparingingly. The reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year will play in mini-tour events during his "off" weeks. Cole is coming off a 52nd-place finish in his Masters debut and a T-33 at Hilton Head. He's currently 39th in the FedEx Cup standings. He missed the cut playing with Sam Saunders in his only previous Zurich Classic appearance last year.