Mahan takes AT&T lead; Woods gets back in mix

BETHESDA, Md. — A punishing course and temperatures that topped 100 made Friday tough, but Hunter Mahan still managed to make the second round 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 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 victory of the year.

Chris Couch sought medical attention and struggled to finish in the oppressive heat. One caddie had to stop after nine holes, and another vomited to the side of a green from drinking too much water.

Tiger Woods got back in it with 68 in the morning and was five shots off the lead. Mahan, though, set himself apart at 7-under 135.

"I hit a lot of good shots," said Mahan, who missed only two fairways and three greens. "I hit so many fairways and greens, I made it easy on myself. This is a pretty punishing golf course if you get off line a little bit."

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 67 and was two shots behind, along with Jimmy Walker and Brendon De Jonge.

More telling than only 18 players who remained under par was the cut at 148. It was one shot higher than the cut for the Open last year at Congressional, and it was the highest score to make the cut at a PGA Tour event outside of a mjor since 149 at the Barclays in 2009.

Couples leads senior major

PITTSBURGH — The heat is on at the Senior Players Championship, and Fred Couples is taking advantage.

With sweltering temperatures easing the stiffness in his chronically bad back, the defending champ birdied the final three holes for 7-under 63 and the second-round lead in the Champions Tour major.

Couples reached 11-under 129 on a day when the temperature reached 96.

"The heat helps," he said. "I have some heat on my back to start the day, and then being hot and humid certainly was a good thing."

Couples has complained about stiffness all week, saying his back is sore after receiving his regular anti-inflammatory injections two weeks ago. His game hasn't shown it. He has one bogey through two rounds, has birdied the two par-5 holes both days and has hit 36 of 38 greens.

He birdied four of the first six holes Friday and closed the same way, with birdies at 13, 16, 17 and 18.

Joe Daley was a stroke back after shooting 64, and Tom Lehman (67) was third at 7 under. Olin Browne had a tournament-record 62 to reach 5-under 135.

LPGA: Veronica Felibert shot a career-best 6-under 65 for the first-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Ark. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot par 71, Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse and Clearwater's Jennifer Gleason had 72, and Tampa resident Kristy McPherson shot 73.

Mahan takes AT&T lead; Woods gets back in mix 06/29/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 30, 2012 1:00am]

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