Couples, Haas share Charles Schwab lead
SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples shot a 3-under 68 on Thursday for a share of the lead with assistant captain Jay Haas after the first round of the Champions Tour's season-ending Charles Schwab Championship.
Couples, coming off a victory three weeks ago in San Antonio, had six birdies and three bogeys at TPC Harding Park, the site of the United States' 2009 Presidents Cup victory in his first year as captain.
Haas had four birdies and a bogey.
David Frost and Michael Allen were a stroke back and Charles Schwab Cup points leader Tom Lehman matched Kenny Perry and Rod Spittle at 70.
A day after Couples spent nearly 30 minutes once again defending his decision to include Tiger Woods on the American team, he was much more relaxed on the course, especially early.
He got off to a quick start with birdies on five of the first nine holes and held a two-stroke lead midway through the back nine before running into trouble in the wet, windy conditions.
Couples, a two-time winner on tour this season, had bogeyed Nos. 13 and 14 – both par 4s – then added another bogey on the par-3 17th to fall a stroke behind Haas. Couples recovered on the 18th with a 10-foot birdie putt to regain a share of the lead.
Haas, whose only victory this season came at the 3M Championship in Minnesota in late July, had a more consistent round. His only stumble came on the par-3 11th when flew the green with his tee shot.
Haas made up for it with birdies on 16 and 17 to take a brief one-stroke lead.
Periodic heavy rain combined with sporadic sweeping wind kept the scores high. Only seven of the 30 players broke par on the picturesque course.
Lehman, attempting to become the first to win player of the year honors on the PGA, Nationwide and Champion tours, repeatedly struggled with his approach shots and had only two birdies.
Mark Calcavecchia, second in points behind Lehman, had an even rougher afternoon. He had five birdies but two double bogeys, one at the par-3 third, en route to a 71.
Frost eagled the 525-yard par-5 ninth, then birdied No. 10 to get to 5 under, but dropped back with bogeys on Nos. 11, 13 and 14.