Snedeker leads Safeway Open by 3 after 65

Brandt Snedeker played alongside 59-year-old Fred Couples in the first two rounds of the Safeway Open and said that was one of the reasons he scored so well.

Snedeker collected five birdies on the front nine and eight in all while shooting 7-under-par 65 to take a three-stroke lead over Phil Mickelson, Ryan Moore and Michael Thompson after 36 holes on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa ( in Napa.

“It was pretty similar (to yesterday), pretty solid all the way around,” said Snedeker, who captured the Wyndham Championship in August for his ninth PGA Tour victory. “I hit only two bad shots all day today. It’s fun playing with Freddy and that has a lot to do with it.

“The speed on my putts has been good for two days and if you get the ball started on the right line on these greens, you’ve got a chance to make them. I’ve made a lot of putts the first two days and hope to keep it going on the weekend.”

Snedeker, 37, who loves California having won twice at Pebble Beach and twice at Torrey Pines, posted an opening 66 and has a score of 13-under 131 midway through the opener to the 2018-19 season.

Mickelson followed an opening 65 with a 69 by making five birdies on his last 10 holes, while Moore had four birdies coming home in a 67, and Thompson carded a bogey-free 65.

“I’m surprised, I had no expectations at all,” said Mickelson, who flew back from France after a poor performance in the Ryder Cup last week. “I haven’t been playing well and I didn’t expect to be here for the weekend.

“I had a terrible warm-up yesterday and didn’t warm up great today, but hit a lot of good shots out there. Now that I’ve made the cut, I’m not so pessimistic going into the weekend.”

Kevin Tway birdied the last three holes to shoot 67 and is four shots back in a tie for fifth with Sungjae Im of South Korea, who birdied three of the last five in a 69, and first-round leader Sepp Straka of Austria, who followed his 63 with a 72.

Ricky Barnes of Stockton birdied six of the last seven holes to record a brilliant, bogey-free 61 and is another shot back in a tie for eighth with Adam Schenk (69), Peter Malnati (68), Kevin Streelman (68), Alex Prugh (70), J.T. Poston (70) and Chase Wright (72).

Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, the third member of the threesome with Snedeker and Couples, chipped in for eagle from 83 yards on the 17th hole and is tied for 15th after a 68, while Couples is tied for 24th following a 65 that included five early birdies and three more coming home.

Two-time defending champion Brendan Steele if Idyllwild and UC Riverside wound up in a tie for 24th after a 71.

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