Couples two clear at Riviera

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, Last Updated: 11:16 AM ET

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Fred Couples fired a five-under 66 Friday to grab a two-stroke lead with the second round of the Northern Trust Open suspended due to darkness.

Couples, a two-time winner, finished 36 holes at eight-under-par 134.

J.B. Holmes and John Senden both posted a two-under 69 Friday, and they are tied for second at six-under-par 136. Spencer Levin is also minus-six, but has finished only 15 holes of his second round.

Two-time champion and world No. 4 Phil Mickelson managed a one-under 70 at Riviera Country Club. He finished two rounds at one-under-par 141.

For the second straight day, darkness forced the suspension of play. The second round is slated to resume Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. (et), but with rain and thunderstorms in the forecast, the resumption might be delayed.

A PGA Tour-record nine players shared the first-round lead, and Couples was one stroke behind that group. However, he jumped ahead of them by rolling in an eagle effort from more than 90 feet out on the first.

Couples cruised to seven straight pars from the second. At the par-four ninth, he drained a 36-foot birdie putt to move to six-under.

After a pair of pars, Couples hit his approach to six feet and converted that birdie chance. His final birdie came at the 15th, where he drained another long birdie try, this one from 29 feet out.

"You always want to play well, but I do love the course," Couples stated. "And today, I opened up with probably a 100-foot eagle putt that I made, and then it just kept going. It was a nice day. To shoot five-under on that course was very good."

Couples is playing this event instead of defending his title on the Champions Tour at the ACE Group Classic.

"I'm a Champions Tour player that plays a couple times on the PGA Tour, but no way," Couples said when asked if he would consider being a playing captain at this year's Presidents Cup. "If I could win by 10, I would still say no way. But my goal is to play well tomorrow and Sunday, and see what I can do."

Holmes cost himself dearly at the end of the round. He played the front nine even-par, with a birdie on the sixth and a bogey at the ninth. Around the turn, he birdied the 11th to get to five-under. Holmes poured in three straight birdies from the 15th to grab a share of the lead.

At the 18th, Holmes found the short grass off the tee, but missed the green left. It took him two chip shots to get onto the putting surface, and he two- putted from inside five feet for a double-bogey.

Senden had back-to-back birdies from the second. He birdied No. 7, but gave that stroke right back with a bogey on the eighth. He again moved to seven- under with a birdie on 16, but he closed with a bogey at the last to end two back.

Levin had three birdies and a bogey through 15 holes.

Robert Allenby, one of the many first-round leaders, posted a one-under 70. He is tied for fifth at five-under-par 137 with Stewart Cink (67), 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman (67), Kevin Na (66) and Ryan Moore (68). Aaron Baddeley is also at minus-five and is through only 14 holes of round two.

NOTES: Couples owns the 36-hole lead for the first time since the 2004 Barclays...Defending champion Steve Stricker struggled to a one-over 72 and finished two rounds at three-over-par 145...The cut line would be plus-three at this point, but could move back to plus-two...Chad Campbell, Angel Cabrera, Rory Sabbatini, Luke Donald and Y.E. Yang will miss the cut, whatever the number ends up being...Carl Pettersson, one of the first-round leaders, struggled to a 78 Friday and is tied for 69th at three-over-par 145...Chris DiMarco was disqualified after signing an incorrect scorecard.


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