Fred Couples, 63, who hasn’t won on PGA TOUR Champions since 2017, shot his second consecutive 4-under 68 to tie for the lead on Saturday at the PGA TOUR Champions SAS Championship at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, North Carolina.
Couples had four birdies on the back nine to move to the top of the leaderboard, along with rookie Y.E. Yang. The SAS is only Couples’ eighth event this season. He has one top-10 finish, a tie for second at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in May. He sits 60th in the Schwab Cup standings.
Couples said he has driven the ball well both days, and he credited himself for making some lengthy par putts on Saturday.
“Basically, when you’re playing tournaments like this where the courses are hard and everyone is 6, 7, 8 under, you have to shoot a really good round to win,” Couples said. “Somebody will shoot 6 under tomorrow and probably get to 12 under, which makes me have to shoot another 68, which I’m very capable of doing and I feel good about myself.
“But, you know, I’ve just got to keep plugging along. I play so little that it’s very exciting to play well when I do, and I love it. mean, I didn’t think I would have any shot of playing great golf here, and I got it around great for two days and I just need to do it one more day.”
Yang shot a 2-under 70 to tie Couples at 8 under. The South Korea native has three top-10 finishes in 2022, including a runner-up at the Ascension Charity Classic.
First-round leader Rocco Mediate, 2019 SAS Championship winner Jerry Kelly and Scott McCarron are tied for third at 7 under. Mediate had a wild round of even-par 72 that included six birdies. Kelly and McCarron each shot 68 in the first round and backed it with a 69.
Undaunted by a first-round 72 that left him tied for 40th, Charles Schwab Cup leader Steven Alker rallied with a 6-under 66 to vault into contention. He leads a group of seven players tied for sixth at 6 under that also includes Bernhard Langer and Jim Furyk.
Alker, 51, a New Zealand native, was bogey-free during his second round. He parlayed four birdies and an eagle on the par-five 17th into a move that vaulted him 34 spots.
Alker has 17 top-25s in 19 events, so he figured to at least be better on Saturday.
“I was like 3 over after five yesterday, I was kind of screaming a bit,” Alker said. “Yeah, just kind of played Steve Alker golf today, just kind of down the middle of the fairway and middle of the greens and gave myself some chances. Kind of got my round going with an eagle on 17 there, which was my eighth, and then just turned and birdied 2, 3, 4, so it was a nice run there. Would have liked to get one or two more coming in, I had a couple chances, but the leaders haven’t done too much at the moment, so we’ll see what happens.”