Pittsburgh • Defending champion Fred Couples birdied the final three holes in sweltering conditions Friday for a 7-under 63 and the second-round lead in the Senior Players Championship.
Couples, the winner last year at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., reached 11 under at Fox Chapel on a day when the temperature reached 96 degrees with a heat index of 105. He won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in March for his seventh victory on the 50-and-over tour.
Couples is thriving in the heat, in part because it's better for his chronically bad back. He has complained about stiffness all week, saying his back is sore after receiving his regular anti-inflammatory injections two weeks ago. The 1992 Masters champion has one bogey through two rounds, has birdied the two par-5 holes both days and has hit 34 of 36 greens.
Joe Daley was a stroke back after a 64.
Tom Lehman, the Regions Tradition winner in his last start, was third at 7 under after a 66. Mark Calcavecchia, coming off a victory Sunday in the Montreal Championship, was 6 under along with Bill Glasson, Michael Allen and Jay Don Blake.
Hunter Mahan finally got a good score to match a flawless swing.
In temperatures that topped 100 degrees, Mahan ran off seven birdies Friday afternoon in Bethesda, Md., for a 6-under 65 in the AT&T National. It was the best score of the week at Congressional, and it gave him a two-shot lead over Robert Garrigus, Jimmy Walker and Brendon De Jonge.
Tiger Woods got back in the mix with a 68, though Mahan made his weekend task tougher. Mahan made birdies on two of the last three holes to reach 7-under 135, leaving Woods five shots behind.
Veronica Felibert shot a career-best 6-under 65 to take the first-round lead in the LPGA Tour's NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Ark.
Felibert, a rookie from Venezuela who made the field as the second alternate, had seven birdies and needed only 27 putts at Pinnacle Country Club. The round came after the former Southern California player missed the cuts in her previous three tournaments, and one week after switching to a new putter.
Fred Couples -11
Joe Daley -10
Tom Lehman -7
Jay Don Blake -6