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Associated Press
Tournament leader Hunter Mahan shot a 6-under 65 on Friday.

Congressional leader chases 3rd victory of year

– A punishing golf course. Temperatures that topped 100. Hunter Mahan still managed to make Friday at Congressional feel like a breeze.

Mahan finally had a good score to match the efficient way he has been swinging the club. He made seven birdies in the stifling heat for a 6-under 65, giving him a two-shot lead going into the weekend at the AT&T National as he goes after a PGA Tour-leading third win of the year.

Chris Couch sought medical attention and struggled to finish in the oppressive conditions. One caddie had to stop after nine holes, and another vomited to the side of the 13th green from drinking too much water.

Tiger Woods stayed in the game with a 68 in the morning, when it was still so hot that towels were used to wipe sweaty faces more than to clean clubs. He talked about the value of staying fit and strong to survive days like this. He was five shots behind.

Mahan, though, has set himself apart for two days and sits at 7-under 135.

“I hit a lot of good shots,” said Mahan, who missed only two fairways and three greens. “I hit so many fairways and greens, I made it easy on myself. This is a pretty punishing golf course if you get off line a little bit. I put myself in some great spots to make putts. And I felt like I played well on the back, when it was getting really hot and you’re getting a little bit more tired.”

Robert Garrigus had his sixth straight subpar round at Congressional with a 67 and was two shots behind, along with Jimmy Walker and Brendon De Jonge, who each had a 69.

Woods was at 2-under 140, in a tie for 11th.

CHAMPIONS: In Pittsburgh, Defending champion Fred Couples birdied the final three holes for a 7-under 63 and the second-round lead in the Senior Players Championship, the third of five Champions Tour majors.

Joe Daley was a stroke back after a 64.

LPGA: In Rogers, Ark., Veronica Felibert shot a career-best 6-under 65 to take the first-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship.

Felibert had seven birdies and needed only 27 putts at Pinnacle Country Club. China’s Shanshan Feng, the LPGA Championship winner this month, was a stroke back.

Former Fort Wayne resident Amanda Blumenherst was tied for 76th after a 2-over 73.

EUROPEAN: In Portrush, Northern Ireland, Frenchman Gregory Bourdy opened a 1-shot lead in the second round of the Irish Open as Rory McIlroy edged his way back toward the leader board.

Bourdy sits at 12-under 132 after a 67. Englishman Mark Foster also shot a 67 and was in second.

Former U.S. Open champion McIlroy climbed 29 places and into a tie for 24th at 139 with his 3-under 69.