On a beautiful day at Le Fountainebleau Golf Course in Blainville, 78 of the top golfers on the PGA Champions tour completed the second round of the $1.8 million U.S. 54-hole tournament. This is the first ever Montreal date on the PGA Champions Tour and the feedback from players and public alike has been overwhelmingly positive.
The players have effused positively about the course, which is in great shape. The 7,105 yard par 72 course is a fairly open one especially off some of the tees which favours longer hitters and encourages those players to really go for it on the par 5s. The greens are also large encouraging to the players to go right for the pin and play aggressively. None other than Fred Couples went so far as to say that "This is a phenomenal event, as good or better than any of our big tournaments." There was also 20,000 in attendance on Day Two to watch these great golfers put on a show. Players really seemed to enjoy playing in front of the large crowd.
As previously stated it was a beautiful day though a little breezy. Despite the sometimes gusty winds it was a day where the golfers were able to score. Scoring his second straight 66, 52-year-old Floridian native John Cook sat atop the leaderboard, but it is not going to be an easy tournament for anyone including Cook to win. Cook is being chased by the likes of Fred Couples, Russ Cochran, Loren Roberts, and Mark Calcavecchia. These top golfers are all within 4 shots of the leader.
Though all of these golfers are great pros the man that John Cook should be most worried about is the man who had the largest gallery following him from hole to hole on day 2, Fred Couples. Couples, coming off a First Round 69, was in a threesome with Chien Soon Lu of Taiwan and fellow American John Ross. PGA Champions Tour rookie (he just turned 50 this year) Couples has been the hottest golfer on the tour recently and has already won 3 times this season. Cook, who has placed 2nd in two tournaments this season, should be able to handle pressure as he has 4 victories on the Champions Tour and 11 on the PGA Tour.
Round Two began with 67-year-old Tom Wargo and Russ Cochran as the co-leaders after shooting record-tying (records that were not to last long) 65s in the First Round. John Cook took over sole possession of the lead with a fine bogey-free round. His round also included four birdies and even an eagle on the 7th hole, a par-5, 515 yard hole. Cook's fine second round and rise to the top of the leaderboard was somewhat overshadowed by D.A. Weibring's fantastic and course record 63. This fantastic round allowed him to move from 60th into a tie for 3rd place.
A few Canadians are competing in the tournament. They include Quebec PGA Tour veterans Yvan Beachemin (who, to the delight of the crowd, shot a 69) and Daniel Talbot, B.C native Dave Barr, and Jim Rutledge, who is tied for 34th place and 8 shots behind the leader.
Round Three should be an interesting one that is highly competitive. This means some high level golfing for all those in attendance. Present leader Cook predicts that if the wind keeps down that the back nine will be a shoot out on the last day. The winner is going to have to score another low one. A 6 or 7 under by one of the players in contention is probably what it is going to take to bring home the winner's cheque.
The PGA Champions Tour is for 50 and over golfers and brags some of the best golfers ever to pick up a club. The quality of golf on display over the 3 days of the tournament was at a very high level and was appreciated by the thousands who came out to watch. Here's to hoping that the tour comes through Montreal again next year.