Couples Ups Lead in Charles Schwab Cup Championship

Fred Couples padded his lead Saturday in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. The 54-year-old from Seattle fired a 3-under 68 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco for a five-shot lead in the Champion's Tour's season-ending event entering the final round.

On a chilly day in the Bay Area, Couples - who began play four strokes up on the 30-man field - got off to a dubious start with a bogey on the par-4 opening hole.

But the eight-time winner on the over-50 circuit settled down from there, carding four birdies and all pars the rest of the way to reach 15-under 198 through 54 holes, five strokes clear of California native Mark O'Meara, who shot a 67.

"I'm hitting the ball well," Couples said during a brief interview as he exited the 18th green. Indeed, through three rounds he's carded 19 birdies against only two bogeys and a double, which he posted in the opening round en route to a starting 65.

Six back of the leader are defending champion Tom Lehman - who posted the day's low outing, a 6-under 65, Bart Bryant (70) and first-round leader, Australia's Peter Senior, who had a 1-over 72.

Alone in sixth at 205 is Mike Goodes (69), while another stroke back are Rocco Mediate (66), Kenny Perry (67) and Germany's Bernhard Langer (71). South African David Frost (71,) is in 10th at 208.

Perry, who won his third title of the year at last week's AT&T Championship in San Antonio, is in prime position to win the season-long Charles Schwab Cup. The 53-year-old Kentuckian entered the tournament with a 612-point lead over second-place Langer in the points' race.

If Langer wins the Charles Schwab Cup Championship - which now is quite unlikely with how well Couples is playing, Perry needs to finish fifth or better to win the Cup and earn the $1 million annuity that goes to the overall champion.

The winner of the 72-hole, 30-player Charles Schwab Cup Championship takes home $440,000.

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