Locals make mark at Barbasol Championship

ALEX SLITZ | Lexington Herald Leader

Lyon County native Cullan Brown finished in a 11-way tie for 53rd place at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Lexington over the weekend.

Last weekend represented a first time for a pair of area golfers.

Neither University of Kentucky rising sophomore Cullan Brown nor Paducah native Case Cochran had yet played in the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Lexington.

By the end of the weekend, both were on either side of the Top 50, with Cochran in a six-way tie for 45th and Brown in a 11-way tie for 53rd.

"It was very unexpected," said Brown, an Eddyville native who earned entry to the tournament with a sponsor's exemption and was one of two amateurs to play, while being ineligible for the $2.5 million purse.

"We were fully committed to going through the qualifying process and just taking our chances at that. It was a huge surprise. It was an honor, but it was a huge surprise."

Once Brown cleared the last hurdle -- getting approval from UK's athletic compliance department -- he hit the course.

"It was nice, because it was a course I'd gotten to play some over the years," Brown said. "There was definitely a certain level of comfort that came with being on a golf course that you'd been on before. There's no doubt about that."

But, what was perhaps unexpected was the 19-year old making the cut after firing an even-par 72 on Thursday and following it with a 4-under 68 on Friday.

Brown wasn't done.

On Friday, he was a stroke better, going into the final round at 9-under. He'd finish the tournament at 10-under.

"It was great," Brown said. "We went into the week with really no expectations on the golf side. I just went in looking to enjoy the week and celebrate the opportunity. For us to be in a position to make the cut was phenomenal. I wouldn't say we weren't expecting it, but we were certainly prepared to accept that I wouldn't make the cut."

For Cochran, a professional currently playing on the Mackenzie Tour -- the PGA's Canadian arm -- the Barbasol also represented a chance to briefly return to his home state with much of his family in tow, including its soon-to-be newest member. Cochran and his wife, Ashton, are expecting their first child, a son, who is due imminently.

"It's super cool," said Cochran, a nine-year professional. "I'm playing up in Canada, so to come down and play on the main tour in Kentucky, I kind of want to show off how good Kentucky golf is. For a state of 4.5 million people, we put out some pretty incredible golfers over the last few decades.

"Having friends and family there, I had a dozen or more people drive up from Paducah, and some of my brothers' friends from Lexington came and supported me. It was really a cool experience."

And even then, Cochran wasn't the only person from his immediate family on the course over the weekend.

Both his brothers, Ryan and Reed, were caddies for the tournament. Ryan was on the bag for Case, while Reed tended the bag for former UK golfer Stephen Stallings.

Their father, Russ Cochran, was unable to make the trip. But, his reason was as good as any golfer could have -- he was in Scotland preparing for the Senior British Open.

"It's the family business," said Case, whose cousin Russ Cochran III was at Paxton Park playing in the Irvin Cobb Championship at the same time. "I've had my wife, Ashton, caddy for me down in Latin America. We're all in on golf. We definitely love it."

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