Fred Couples carded a bogey-free 9-under 63 on Friday on the Black Course at Tiburon Golf Club to take a two-shot lead over Germany's Bernhard Langer at the Chubb Classic in Naples, Fla.
Couples, who won the event in 2010 and 2017, hit all 14 fairways and made nine birdies, including five straight on Nos. 5-9. The 61-year-old, a 13-time winner on the Champions tour, is seeking his first win in 35 starts, dating back to the 2017 American Family Insurance Championship.
"I think anytime I putt well and feel like I'm seeing the putts, I'm going to make a few," said Couples. "... I hit a lot of fairways. I don't know if I hit every fairway, but I kept the ball in play, kept it below the hole, and like I say, the hole got big there for about a five-hole stretch, and I hit the ball solid all day. But hitting the fairways was huge."
Langer, a three-time winner of the Chubb Classic (2011, 2013, 2016), also was stellar off the tee, hitting all 14 fairways and countering one bogey with eight birdies en route to a 65.
Langer has 10 top-10 finishes in 13 appearances at the event including a tie for third in 2020 and tie for second place in 2019. The round marked his eighth consecutive round in the 60s in the event, dating back to 2018.
Gene Sauers, Steve Stricker and Sweden's Robert Karlsson are tied for third at 6 under. Sauers' 66 matched his best round in nine appearances at the Chubb Classic, and he was the only player on Friday to eagle the par-5 sixth hole. Stricker's bogey-free round extended his streak of consecutive subpar rounds in Champions events to 13.
Defending champion Scott Parel (70) birdied three of his last four holes Friday to finish at 2 under and tied for 22nd place.
Charles Schwab Cup leader Kevin Sutherland also shot 70 and notched the lone eagle of the day at the par-5 15th.
Germany's Alex Cejka (68), who turned 50 in December and earned his start through his second successful Monday qualifier, stands tied for eighth at 5 under.
Steve Jones withdrew prior to the start of the first round with a rib injury; Steve Pate (72) took his place in the field.
--Field Level Media