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Couples Continues Fine Play in Mississippi


Coming off his 10th Champions Tour victory in last week's Toshiba Classic in Southern California, Fred Couples traveled east with the rest of the players on the over-50 circuit for the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. The $1.6 million, 54-hole event got underway Friday at the Fallen Oak course in Biloxi.

Couples sustained his excellent play in the first round, opening with a 6-under 66 for a two-stroke lead over Jeff Maggert, Kenny Perry, David Frost, Jay Haas and defending champion Michael Allen.

The 54-year-old Couples, a native of Seattle, recorded two birdies on the front nine to make the turn in 2-under 34. On the home half, he stumbled early with a bogey on the par-4 11th before reeling off five birdies in the next six holes for a 32 on the back nine.

"I played really well," Couples said. "I feel like I putt well on these greens in the past, and I made some today obviously to shoot that score. Just was good driving, made three birdies on the par3s, which is unusual, so that was a big boost. But I felt like I hit the ball pretty solid and putted well."

When asked whether his round was a continuation of his fine play in California, Couples added, "I think it's a continuation of liking this course. That's why I'm here. I like Fallen Oaks and hope to play it for a long time. The reason - I like the course. If I don't play well, it's probably because I don't drive the ball well, because there's some bunkers out there, but today was good drives and it played, from where I drove it, I should have been under par and by making a few twos on par-3s, I got to 6‑under."

In 2012, Couples notched his seventh Champions Tour victory in the Mississippi tournament.

Three strokes behind the leader are Duffy Waldorf, John Riegger, Fred Funk, Roger Chapman, Tom Kite, Scott Dunlap and Anders Forsbrand.

Other notable scores included a 71 by 19-time Champions Tour winner Bernhard Langer, who finished tied for second a shot behind Couples in last week's Toshiba Classic with Colin Montgomerie and Steve Pate.

On Friday, Montgomerie carded a 71 and Pate a 73.

For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/champions/leaderboard.html.