BETHESDA, Md. – A punishing golf course. Temperatures that topped 100. Hunter Mahan still managed to make Friday at Congressional feel like a breeze.
Mahan finally had a good score to match the efficient way he has been swinging the club. He made seven birdies in the stifling heat for a 6-under 65, giving him a two-shot lead going into the weekend at the AT&T National as he goes after a PGA Tour-leading third win of the year.
Chris Couch sought medical attention and struggled to finish in the oppressive conditions. One caddie had to stop after nine holes, and another vomited near the 13th green from drinking too much water.
Tiger Woods stayed in the game with a 68 in the morning, when it was still so hot that towels were used to wipe sweaty faces more than to clean clubs. He talked about the value of staying fit and strong to survive days like this. He was five shots behind.
Mahan was at 7-under 135. His two rounds fulfilled what his swing coach, Sean Foley, said Thursday when describing his ball-striking as “a laser show.”
Robert Garrigus had his sixth straight sub-par round at Congressional – that includes last year at the U.S. Open when he became a footnote in history as only the fourth American to break par all rounds of a U.S. Open – with a 67 and was two shots behind, along with Jimmy Walker and Brendon De Jonge, who each had a 69.
Senior Players Championship: At Pittsburgh, defending champion Fred Couples birdied the final three holes in sweltering conditions for a 7-under-par 63 and the second-round lead.
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.
NW Arkansas Championship: At Rogers, Ark., Veronica Felibert shot a career-best 6-under 65 to take the first-round lead.
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.
China’s Shanshan Feng, the LPGA Championship winner this month, was a stroke back.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng, the two-time defending champion and a three-time winner this year, opened with a 2-over 73, her fifth straight round over par. No. 2 Stacy Lewis, the former University of Arkansas star who has won twice this year, had a 70.
Karine Icher, Inbee Park and Mi Jung Hur were two strokes back at 67.
Michelle Wie’s season-long struggles continued Thursday with a 1-over 72. Wie has broken par only three times in 22 rounds this year and has made only one cut.
Juli Inkster, making her return to the tour after elbow surgery in January, shot a 78.