Then the weather managed to do what the defenseless course could not: stop the Hall of Famer with a sudden downpour that suspended play for the day with most of the field still on the course.
The stoppage came just after Couples hit his tee shot on the par-3 third. The sky cleared in about an hour, but with fairways and bunkers resembling ponds and more storms looming, officials decided to send players home.
First-round leader John Huston was two shots back at 9-under after eagling from the rough on the par-4 15th hole just before the horn sounded. It was Huston’s second eagle in as many days on a par 4. He eagled No. 7 on Thursday when he drove the green and made a 25-footer.
This one was a bit more unexpected after Huston pushed his tee shot to the right and it sailed into thick rough that bore more than a passing resemblance to soggy cabbage. His sand wedge from 100 yards caught the ball clean and it dropped into the hole on the fly, no roll required.
“It was pretty shocking because it flew in the hole and stayed there,” Huston said.
Couples stressed he won’t be getting ahead of himself as he searches for his second win at Senior Players, one of the Champions Tour five majors. He led at the halfway point on the same course last year, shooting a second-round 63 only to slip on the weekend and finish fourth.
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Maynooth, Ireland, Peter Uihlein and Robert Rock shared the lead after the second round of the Irish Open, while Rory McIlroy missed the cut in his final tournament before the British Open.
Uihlein shot 4-under-par 68 to move to 9-under 135 with England’s Rock, who posted 66 at the Carton House course on the outskirts of Dublin.
It was a disappointing day for the home fans, however, as McIlroy shot 72 to remain at 2-over, missing the cut by two shots. Fellow major winners Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke also didn’t make it to the weekend in a dismal showing by the Irish and Northern Irish contingent.
Uihlein honed his game in often windy conditions on the Karsten Creek course designed and built for Oklahoma State University.
“It’s something I got used to at Oklahoma State as it can be pretty windy there,” he said.
“I spent 3½ years in Oklahoma where sometimes we would play in a tornado. In the wind, your game doesn’t have to be that perfect.
“I seem to struggle when it’s calm and sunny but when it’s windy you just play golf. I enjoy it.”
Jose Maria Olazabal, the 1990 Irish Open winner, carded 69 to sit in a five-way tie for third, two shots back.
WEB.COM TOUR: In Newburgh, Ind., former Navy golfer Billy Hurley III has a two-shot lead after 36 holes of the United Leasing Championship.
Hurley shot 4-under-par 68 on Friday to move him to 7-under 137.
Hurley made his lone bogey of the tournament on the 18th hole on Friday. He had five birdies on Friday and has eight for the tournament.
Joe Affrunti (70-69) is in second place.
Aiken’s Kevin Kisner shot 72-77–149 and missed the cut, which fell at 145.