Sainte-Julie, QC (Sports Network) - Russ Cochran fired a 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead of the Montreal Championship at La Vallee du Richelieu Golf Club.
Champions Tour leading money winner, Michael Allen, who made the cut last week at the U.S. Open, Jerry Pate, Rod Spittle and Larry Mize share second at 4- under 68.
Senior PGA Champion Roger Chapman, reigning U.S. Senior Open winner Olin Browne, Peter Senior, Mark Brooks, David Peoples, Kirk Triplett, Mark Calcavecchia, David Eger, Jeff Sluman, Dan Forsman and all-time wins leader on the Champions Tour, Hale Irwin, are knotted in sixth place at 3-under 69.
Cochran broke into red figures at the par-5 fifth when he drove into the right rough, but laid up with his second. He knocked a wedge to eight feet and rolled in the birdie putt.
Cochran ran home another 8-foot birdie putt, this time at the par-5 seventh. He parred the eighth, then went on a run around the turn.
After an errant drive at the ninth, followed by a drop from the cart path, Cochran hit a low 8-iron punch under trees. The ball rolled up to 5 feet and he cashed in on the unlikely birdie chance.
He hit a pitching-wedge to six feet to set up birdie at the 10th, then landed in a greenside bunker with his second at the par-5 11th. Cochran blasted out to a foot and kicked in the short birdie putt.
Cochran three-putted from 45 feet for a bogey at 13 to fall back to 4-under par.
After two pars, Cochran got back to minus-5 with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 16th. One hole later, Cochran hit a 9-iron to 10 feet and poured in the birdie putt.
Cochran was alone in the lead and parred the last to stay atop the leaderboard.
"The golf course, I think is really a fun golf course to play," said Cochran, who won last year's Senior Open Championship. "You're always trying to hit the fairway. And then there's a little curveball thrown at us out there as far as some of the greens got kind of firm out there, too. So we were trying to kind of figure out which shots would kind of hold on the greens and drift and which ones kind of bounced and took off."
Two years ago, Cochran shot a first-round 65 in this championship, but tied for 10th. It was at a different course, but Cochran remembers all too well. Plus, Cochran is well aware he is not only winless in 2012, but he only has 4 top 10s.
"I know I didn't finish it off a couple years ago," said Cochran. "I haven't had the year I've wanted so far, so this, you know, helps build my confidence and gets me headed in the right direction. I'm very, very happy with the round."
NOTES: Cochran has three Champions Tour wins and one PGA Tour victory - the 1991 Western Open...Defending champion John Cook shot a 1-under 71 and is tied for 25th.