Russ Cochran breaks Encompass Championship record with his 64

In this May 24 photo, Russ Cochran hits a tee shot at the 75th Senior PGA Championship golf tournament at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan. | File
In this May 24 photo, Russ Cochran hits a tee shot at the 75th Senior PGA Championship golf tournament at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan. | File

GLENVIEW — A small change in his setup on the practice range Sunday morning made a big difference in Russ Cochran’s final round at the Champions Tour’s Encompass Championship.

After consecutive 71s at North Shore Country Club, the 55-year-old had seven birdies and an eagle in the third round to shoot a tournament-record, 8-under 64. All it took was for him to stand closer to the ball and put more weight on his toes.

“I know it sounds kind of crazy, but the combination of those things seemed to really do the trick,” Cochran said. “I hit a lot of close shots.”

Cochran, the 1991 winner of the Western Open at Cog Hill in Lemont, played his first nine holes 3 under and caught fire on the back with five birdies in a row from Nos. 12-16.

Standing on the 18th tee at 8 under, Cochran nearly didn’t get his place in Encompass Championship history. The left-hander hit his tee shot into the right rough and needed to hole out a 22-footer for par to beat the tournament record, first set by Craig Stadler in last year’s second round, by one stroke.

“That really makes the round,” Cochran said of converting his longest putt of the day. “I really would have been disappointed with an unforced error.”
Cochran ended up tied for sixth at 10 under. It was his third top 10 of the season.

Traveling show

According to Champions Tour officials, no more than a handful of players travel to and from tournaments in mobile homes.

Ever since joining the senior circuit in 2010, Mark Calcavecchia is one of those players. He parked his RV, which he drives himself, about three miles from North Shore Country Club for the Encompass Championship. It was the sixth week in a row he’s been on the road with it.

“It depends on the schedule,” he said. “When it works out, it’s great.”

Calcavecchia said his rig has all the comforts of a home, such as a satellite TV. He also said it saves him from going out to eat all the time.

But Calcavecchia said his RV is nothing compared to Steve Elkington’s.

For one, Calcavecchia’s is about a third of the size. Elkington’s looks like an 18-wheeler. It is 53 feet long and 16 feet high with 1,200 square feet of living space. It was parked inside the club’s property, steps away from the practice range.

“It’s entirely different,” said Calcavecchia, who won the 1989 British Open. “It’s like a mobile condo.”

Calcavecchia said more players are looking into the lifestyle.

“It’s a home on wheels,” he said. “You spend your whole career flying in and out of airports, packing and unpacking. This is nice.”

Local flavor

Jeff Sluman was the low player with Chicago ties after shooting 67-70-69. The Hinsdale resident earned a tie for sixth at 10 under. A year ago, Sluman shot 11 under to tie for third.

Gary Hallberg, who was raised in Barrington, made five birdies on his first 10 holes, but he gave some strokes back down the stretch to finish the third round with his second 70 in a row. Hallberg’s 3-under total tied him for 39th.

Lake Forest’s Chip Beck carded another 73 to finish his tournament at even par and tied for 59th.

Notes

Hale Irwin accomplished something Sunday that only a few players can hope to do by matching his age with a 3-under 69. He had four birdies and one bogey and finished tied for 39th for the tournament at 3 under. … Defending champion Craig Stadler couldn’t summon the same magic at North Shore Country Club this year. The defending champion was never in the hunt and shot 73-72-74 to place in a tie for 68th in the 81-player field.

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