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Originally published March 21, 2014 at 6:28 PM | Page modified March 21, 2014 at 6:51 PM

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Fred Couples takes two-shot lead after 1st round in Mississippi

Couples won the Toshiba Classic last weekend in Newport Beach, Calif., but said his steady first round was more about his comfort at Fallen Oak.

The Associated Press

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SAUCIER, Miss. — Seattle native Fred Couples has already been playing some terrific golf. Now he is at one of his favorite courses on the Champions Tour.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise that Couples bolted to the front of the pack on Friday at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at Fallen Oak. The 54-year-old Couples shot a 6-under 66 to take a two-shot lead in ideal conditions.

Couples won the Toshiba Classic last weekend in Newport Beach, Calif., but said his steady first round was more about his comfort at Fallen Oak.

“I think it’s a continuation of liking this course,” Couples said. “I like Fallen Oak and hope to play it for a long time.”

It was his 12th straight round in the 60s on the Champions Tour, dating to last season, one shy of the record set by Hale Irwin in 1999.

“I feel like I putt well on these greens, and I made some today, obviously, to shoot that score,” Couples said.

Couples has won 10 times on the Champions Tour since his debut in 2010.

Last year’s tournament champion, Michael Allen, was paired with Couples and shot a 68 to join a group of five in second place. Jeff Maggert, who was making his Champions Tour debut, is also in second place, along with Kenny Perry, David Frost and Jay Haas.

Seattle native Rick Fehr was tied for 14th at 2 under, and Pullman High graduate Kirk Triplett was tied for 29th at even par.


• One day after Adam Scott opened with a record-tying 62 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he hit his stride around the turn with five birdies in an eight-hole stretch to leave everyone else far behind. Even with a three-putt bogey on his final hole, Scott still had a 4-under 68 for a seven-shot lead.

He was at 14-under 130, matching the 36-hole record at Bay Hill first set by Tom Watson and Andy Bean in 1981.

J.B. Holmes (69), Chesson Hadley (68) and Francesco Molinari of Italy (70) were tied for second at 7-under. Puyallup’s Ryan Moore (72) was tied for 16th at 4 under, and Michael Putnam (75) of University Place was tied for 57th at 1 over.

Jack Fleck, who produced one of golf’s greatest upsets by beating Ben Hogan in a playoff to win the 1955 U.S. Open, died Friday in Fort Smith, Ark. He was 92. He had been the oldest living U.S. Open champion.

Mirim Lee, a 23-year-old South Korean, shot a 5-under 67 to take a two-stroke advantage over 16-year-old Lydia Ko into the weekend at the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix in Lee’s third LPGA Tour start. Lee is at 13-under 131.

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