After night and morning acupuncture sessions with physician Halina Snowball in Greenwich, Conn., 44-year-old Fred Couples shot a bogey-free 6-under-par 65 yesterday to take the second-round lead in the Buick Classic in Harrison, N.Y.
"As soon as I left her office yesterday, I didn't have any pain in my back," Couples said. "I don't get it, but I'm going to keep trying it. To me, it's unbelievable what they can do."
Coming off a second-place finish last week at the Memorial, Couples birdied the final two holes on the Westchester Country Club course to take a one-stroke lead over Vijay Singh, Fredrik Jacobson and young playing partner Luke Donald.
"I've kept the ball in play, which is the key here," said Couples, who played with acupuncture pins in his ears.
Couples' wife, Thais, tried to talk him into withdrawing Wednesday night to rest his back for the U.S. Open next week at Shinnecock Hills.
"I snuck out of there Thursday when she was still sleeping," Couples said. "She's downtown with the kids now. She'll come home, and I'll tell her I'm leading the tournament, and she's going to have a heart attack."
Couples took advantage of Jacobson's double-bogey 7 on the par-5 ninth -- his last hole -- to top the leader board at 10 under.
Jacobson's tee shot struck a tree and bounced away from the tree line, but he failed to take advantage of the break when his 8-iron third shot went into the thick rough to the right of the green. After lobbing his fourth shot into an awkward position in the left fringe, he chipped five feet past the hole and missed the bogey putt.
"It could have been a 9," the Swede said.
He finished with a 69, Donald had a 66, and Singh followed his opening 63 with a 70.
* CHAMPIONS TOUR: Andy Bean, John Harris and Allen Doyle tied the course record with 7-under 65s and shared the first-round lead at the Bayer Advantage Celebrity Pro-Am in Parkville, Mo.
Mark James and Morris Hatalsky were a shot back at 6 under, and six players were tied at 5 under. Twenty players are within four shots of the lead at the National Golf Club of Kansas City.
Bean was back in contention one week after being forced to withdraw from the final round of the Farmers Charity Classic because of an allergic reaction to food he had for breakfast. Tied for the lead heading into the final round, Bean passed out in the caddie tent and could not tee off, missing out on the chance for his first victory since the 1986 Byron Nelson Classic.
"I won't be having English muffins and sausage for breakfast," Bean joked yesterday.