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Youngest Cochran wins playoff to make debut on PGA Tour debut

By Daniel Paulling dpaulling@paducahsun.com

The Cochran family now has its 600th PGA Tour appearance.

St. Mary graduate Case Cochran tees off today at 1:30 p.m. in the Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas, in his PGA Tour debut. His father, Russ, played in 599 PGA Tour events.

Case qualified by earning one of three berths in a four-way playoff Tuesday. He beat Chris Parra on their fifth hole by hitting a hole-in-one on a par-3, 152-yard hole.

"I hit it and felt like I did all I needed to," Case said. "I was a little shocked when it went in."

The ace was the second of the 25-year-old's career and first since he was 12. Playing in a PGA Tour event has been a goal for him, but he admits he'll be nervous.

"If you walk around here and do too much practice and start thinking about other things than hitting golf shots," Case said, "it's not going to be the week that you want."

To help keep him focused, his older brother, Ryan, will caddy for him. Case expects to have a few friends from Paducah and about 30 friends from the Dallas area following him. His mother, Jackie, will attend, but Russ will be competing in a Champions Tour event in Birmingham, Ala.

Despite his extensive and successful career, Russ hasn't given any advice to Case.

"He earned the right to get in by playing a heck of a round of qualifying," Russ said.

"He didn't need any help qualifying. I don't know how much I could help him get ready for the tournament. I might just clutter things up. It's kind of just on him."

Case will be able to call upon his extensive tournament experience to help him.

He won the 2005 and 2006 KHSAA state championships to become the first boys player to win back-to-back titles in 50 years. Case then played at Texas A&M before turning pro last year. He's played six events on the Adams Pro Tour this season and ranks fourth on the money list.

Case hopes the Byron Nelson will be just another step in his career.

"It's a confidence booster," he said. "No matter how I play, I made it here. I know that if I continue to play well that I will belong here. It's going to be fun no matter what."

Call Daniel Paulling, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8662, or follow on Twitter @DanielPaulling.

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