Nature Valley First Tee Open 2014
John Cook edges ahead
September 29, 2014
John Cook carded a second- round, 4-under 68 on Saturday and he took the 36-hole lead heading into the final day at the First Tee Open.
Cook, a nine-time winner on the Champions Tour, finished two rounds at 8- under-par 135 after Saturday's round at the par-72 Pebble Beach Golf Links. He holds a 2-shot lead over Tom Byrum and Skip Kendall.
"I've played here so many times, I've seen it all," Cook said. "There's always plenty of drama at Pebble. There will be more tomorrow. That's the way it is around here."
Half of the field played at Pebble Beach on Saturday, with the other half playing at Poppy Hills Golf Course, a par-71 course.
Byrum, who shared the lead with Cook for a while before dropping a shot later in his round, shot a 3-under 69 at Poppy Hills to finish 36 holes tied for second at 7-under 136. Kendall, playing at Pebble Beach, carded a 3-under 69 to join Byrum at minus-7.
Marco Dawson, on the Poppy Hills course, fired a 3-under 68 on Saturday and he is alone in fourth place at 6-under 137 through 36 holes. Fred Funk (69), Lee Janzen (70), Jeff Hart (67), Jay Haas (70) and Davis Love III (67) are all tied for fifth at minus-5. Funk and Janzen played at Poppy Hills Saturday, while Hart, Haas and Love were at Pebble Beach.
First-round leader Blaine McCallister shot a 1-over 73 at Pebble Beach to fall into a tie for 10th at 4-under 139. Two-time defending champion Kirk Triplett was even par 72 at Pebble Beach and he is six shots back at 2-under 141.
Cook, starting one shot behind McCallister at the beginning of the day, played the back nine at Pebble Beach first. He got off to a roaring start with back- to-back birdies on one and two, getting him into red numbers early.
The 56-year-old gave both of those shots back soon after, however, when he tripped to bogeys on 14 and 16. Cook had an answer right away as he poured in another pair of birdies on 17 and 18.
Around the turn, Cook continued to play well as he made it four straight birdies with gains on one and two. After a pair of pars, Cook double-bogeyed the par-3 fifth, dropping him back to 2-under. With back-to-back birdies on six and seven, Cook responded quickly yet again. He finished with two pars on eight and nine to end at 8-under through 36 holes.
Byrum, playing in one of the final groups of the day, started off hot as well on the back nine of Poppy Hills. Byrum sank two birdies on the first three holes at 10 and 12. He followed those up with a pair of pars before making his third birdie on the par-3 15th.
After three straight pars finished off Byrum's opening nine, he made the turn and poured in his fourth birdie on No. 2, tying him for the lead with Cook. It remained that way for four more holes before Byrum tripped to his first and only bogey on the par-4 seventh. He finished his day with two more pars to end one back at minus-7.
"I played pretty well, my game is starting to come around," Byrum said. "Left a few out there, even finishing in the dark it seemed like I had some chances, but I misread a couple puts. Overall, I'm very happy with my position and how I've played the last two days."
Like Cook, Kendall played the back nine first at Pebble Beach. A bogey on 12 was not the start Kendall was looking for, but he made two birdies on 15 and 18 to put him at minus-1 as he made the turn.
Three more birdies on two, six and eight also had Kendall at minus-8, but a bogey on nine dropped him one back with Byrum.