A strong front nine, leading to a 6-under 65 and 12-under 130 for two days put Fred Couples on top of the leaderboard at the 2013 Schwab Cup Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. First-round leader Peter Senior was on Couples’ heels for most of the day, and threatened to pull up into a tie coming to the end of the round, but a poor second shot on the 18th hole out of a bad lie in the rough led to a bogey 5, dropping him to two strokes back of Couples.
Couples posted one of three clean rounds on the day on the way to his second consecutive 65, utilizing his length off the tee to put himself within range for short-or mid-iron approaches. For example, at the 480-yard par-4 twelfth hole, Couples hit driver, wedge – an unheard-of combination for most players, and a large part of the reason for his strong play so far in the tournament.
Commenting on his iron play, and how it has contributed to his stellar play, Couples said, “I’ve hit really solid shots, and when I hit good irons I’ve made the birdie putts.
Langer stays close, hopes to contend for Cup
Bernhard Langer, who has to win the tournament to have any chance of taking home the cup, posted a 3-under 68 to finish the second day seven strokes under par and alone in fourth place. He’s five strokes out of the lead, but within striking distance with two rounds to play.
Staying close to the top of the leaderboard gained a measure of importance for Langer after the second round, given that his only rival for the Schwab Cup, Kenny Perry, slid further down the leaderboard today. In order for Langer to take the Cup, he must win the tournament, and Perry must finish in a 5-way tie for fourth or a 2-way tie for fifth place.
Perry had an up-and-down round on the second day – and not in the good, golf-centric meaning of the term. The Kentuckian paired three birdies with three bogeys for an even-par 71 and a T-11 standing; not a good result when his very motivated rival for the title continues to post sub-par rounds.
Hometown-guy Michael Allen has flat day with tough finish
San Mateo-native Michael Allen had a frustrating day on the course in today’s second round, racking up eight consecutive pars before carding his first birdie, at the short par-5 ninth hole. He gave that shot back with a three-putt bogey at the 13th when his first putt rolled well past the hole, leaving him an 8-footer for par that he missed by a fraction of an inch.
Allen’s round got a shot in the arm with a birdie at the par-4 sixteenth. His approach shot was all over the tough, tucked-right flag, but it spun back a dozen feet, ending up in the fringe below the hole and leaving him with a tricky left-to-right putt off the collar of the green. In his first break of a round that saw two lip-outs and a number of near misses on the putting green, Allen sank the putt to get back to 1-under on the round, and 4-under for the tournament.
The birdie at 16 was cheered by Allen’s gallery, but the elation was short-lived. After a par, again from the collar of the green, at the par-3 seventeenth hole, Allen stumbled at the close, leaving his tee shot at the par-4 eighteenth hole in an unplayable position on the bank short of the fairway. Lying three in the fairway, Allen hit his approach to a good position below the front-right flag, again narrowly missing a putt, this time for bogey, finishing with a 1-over 72 and dropping into a seven-way tie for 15th place.
Allen’s flat performance today was less a matter of him doing anything wrong than it was of not much going right for him. Accurate off the tee – hitting 10 of 14 fairways, and to the green – hitting 13 of 18 greens in regulation, he was nevertheless leaving long putts that he just didn’t make enough of.
The weather for the weekend is forecast to turn cooler, and breezier on Sunday, conditions that Allen grew up playing in here on the Peninsula, so the hope among his fans in the gallery is that his familiarity with those conditions will be an advantage for him over the weekend, allowing him to make up some ground on the field.
Other highlights of today’s round
- Besides Fred Couples’ clean round today, bogey-free rounds were posted by Russ Cochran, a left-hander from Kentucky, and North Carolinian Mike Goodes. Cochran and Goodes have both posted consecutive rounds of 3-under 68, and are T-5 at 136.
- The par-3 eighth hole played tough on Day 1, playing 233 yards and ranking #1 in difficulty at a stroke average of 3.267. Playing a bit easier today, at 204 yards and 3.200 stroke average, the hole surrendered the first hole-in-one of the tournament when Fred Funk, who is T-15 at 70-70–140, dunked his tee shot for an ace.