ENDICOTT, N.Y. (AP) — John Cook birdied the final two holes for a 7-under 65 and a share of the first-round lead with Olin Browne on Friday in the Champions Tour's Dick's Sporting Goods Open.
The 56-year-old Cook had eight birdies and a bogey on the En-Joie course. He won the last of his nine titles on the 50-and-over tour last year in the season-opening event in Hawaii.
Cook missed 10 weeks of the season after injuring his back in a February fall at his Florida home. He made an 8-foot putt on the par-3 17th and a 25-footer on par-4 18th.
"I was really excited for this year, then (after the injury) I got really down," Cook said. "I didn't know when I was going to be able to play again."
Surgery wasn't necessary, but the layoff left some rust that had to be worked off.
"I'm feeling very good right now," Cook said.
The 55-year-old Browne birdied five of the last seven holes in a bogey-free round. He won the 2011 U.S. Senior Open for his lone Champions Tour victory.
"Sixty-five is a great start," Browne said. "I played really nice golf today. I hit a fair number of fairways and greens and I had a lot of good looks at birdies. And this course, the greens can be a little tricky, so I hit a lot of good putts that didn't go in. I misread a few of them. I've never really played that great here even though I really like the golf course, so it's a good start."
He made birdie putts from 8 feet on the par-4 11th, 5 feet on the par-5 12th, 15 feet on the par-4 13th, 10 feet on the par-4 16th and 7 feet on the par-3 17th.
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