This is the final full-field event of the 2011 Champions Tour and will determine the 30 players who will compete in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Couples won four times and finished fifth or better 13 times last year on the Champions circuit. He has played a limited schedule in 2011 and has just one victory, that coming at the Seniors Players Championship.
He was tied for the lead with Steve Lowery, who turned 51 this week and is still looking for his first Champions Tour victory.
Hal Sutton and Nick Price were tied for third at 66 while Tommy Armour III and Chin Soon Lu each shot a 67 to share fifth place. The large crowd at 4-under 68 included Mark Calcavecchia and Scott Hoch.
Tom Pernice began the week at No. 30 on the Charles Schwab points list and Bob Gilder was 31st. They both need a solid week to qualify for the final event of the year, but both shot 75 and were tied for 66th in the 78-player field.
Sutton improved his chances of making the Schwab Cup field with his fast start. He is currently 36th on the points list.