McKeesport native finally finds rhythm
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Mellow music and an unorthodox putting style helped Brian Cooper zoom toward the top of the leaderboard Thursday in the first round of the Quicksilver Golf Classic.
Cooper, a McKeesport native who now lives in Phoenix, shot a 3-under-par 69. That put him three strokes behind co-leaders Aaron Clark, of Springfield, Mo., and Grover Justice, of Lexington, Ky., who each shot 66.
Kevin Shields, of Mt. Lebanon, was the top local golfer with a 4-under 68. Justin Smith, a former PIAA champ at Moon Area High School, was among 11 players who shot 69.
As he played, Cooper rocked out with his iPod. Many of the 151 other entrants in the four-day tournament wore the digital music players on the practice putting green, but Cooper might have been the only one to use his during his round.
"I listen mostly to soothing sounds -- Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay, David Gray," Cooper said. "It keeps my mind from wandering."
It's OK by the rulebook, so long as Cooper listens only to music and not instructional messages. Cooper competed with his iPod for the first time last week during a U.S. Open qualifier in Phoenix.
"I shot a 68 and got through," he said. "So, hey, if it ain't broke, I ain't fixing it."
Yesterday, Cooper began his round listening to "Babylon" by Gray. He birdied Nos. 1, 3, 12 and 13. He made a good save for par on 10, after he had buried a shot on the lip of the bunker.
By the time Cooper made the turn, U2 was delivering a more up-tempo beat. But when he three-putted on 16, Cooper worried he was slipping out of his rhythm.
Cooper thought back to the Open qualifier, when he kept replaying five songs by Gray.
"That's my rhythm spot, right there," Cooper said. "I probably should just download those songs over and over and have it as a shuffle."
With "Babylon" humming again in his ears, Cooper birdied 17 and made par on the final two holes. That kept him among the frontrunners for the $24,000 winner's paycheck.
Cooper is taming Quicksilver's 7,083-yard layout. Long drives have always been one of his strengths. Working this year with a new instructor in Phoenix, Cooper has straightened out his drive and has started hitting a lot more fairways and greens.
His sore spot has been putting. That changed after Cooper took a piece of advice from his financial sponsor, former Chicago Cubs first baseman Mark Grace.
Now, Cooper looks at the hole -- not the ball -- as he putts.
"It's absolutely amazing," Cooper said. "I've had friends try it, and they can't do it. But it works for me."
Grace talked Cooper into changing his technique a few weeks ago, after they had finished playing 27 holes at Whisper Rock in Scottsdale, Ariz. In the clubhouse, Cooper was moaning about his troubles with the putter.
"Dude, I play a lot of golf with (Cubs pitcher) Greg Maddux," Grace said. "He putts looking at the hole, and he putts great."
Cooper and Grace finished their drinks, went out and played another round. Cooper, using the new putting technique, fired a 64.
"From that point on, I've been doing it, and it feels comfortable," Cooper said. "It's a little different. People look at me a little strange, but it works. Just because it's a little weird doesn't mean it's not a good thing."
Fair Hope, Ala.
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates, Worley edge Brewers, 1-0, move to cusp of playoffs
- Pirates notebook: Bucs set single-season attendance record
- How to take good care of kitchen appliances
- Ex-etiquette: As kids age, consider change in visitation schedule
- Woodlands Foundation toasts FedEx Ground volunteers at Butterfly Ball
- Duquesne Light hires new operations vice president
- Sole Highlands HS twirler follows in grandmother’s footsteps
- Concept Art sale is big on local big-name artists
- Police say rifle carried by suspect in state trooper ambush found
- West Virginia notebook: Oklahoma run game proves too much
- 10 things to know about ‘Book of Mormon’