Fred Funk leads at En-Joie as play called

By Associated PressJune 26, 2009, 4:00 pm
Champions TourENDICOTT, N.Y. ' A little more rain didnt faze Fred Funk.
 
Four days after trudging around rain-soaked Bethpage Black to a last-place finish at the U.S. Open, Funk shot an 8-under 64 on Friday to gain a two-shot lead over Jay Haas and Lonnie Nielsen on the rain-delayed first round of the Dicks Sporting Goods Open. Mike Hulbert also was at 6 under through 15 holes.
 
It was Funks best round on the Champions Tour since a 63 in the 2008 season opener in Hawaii.
 
Tom Kite, D.A. Weibring, Gary Hallberg, and Andy Bean were tied at 5 under, while Joey Sindelar, Jeff Sluman, and Hal Sutton were in a group of five in the clubhouse another shot back.
 
A band of thunderstorms halted play for nearly four hours in the afternoon, and several players will have to complete the first round on Saturday morning.
 
Funk, who has top-seven finishes in his last three Champions Tour events, nearly finished before the rain struck and was undeterred after the long delay, hitting 8-iron to 20 feet and sinking a birdie putt at 18.
Fred Funk is looking for his fifth Champions Tour victory. (Getty Images)
Its like a breath of fresh air to come here. It was a long, long week, said Funk, who excelled despite a sore right knee and aching left shoulder. I can reach every hole in regulation, I think.
 
Funk, at 53 the oldest player to qualify for the U.S. Open and still feeling the effects of the grueling weekend, started slowly. He bogeyed the par-4 second hole at the narrow, tree-lined En-Joie Golf Club course where he won the 1996 B.C. Open, then rallied with five birdies over the final six holes before the turn. He continued his surge with birdies at Nos. 11, 12 and the difficult, water-guarded 15th hole to reach 7 under.
 
It felt good to get rewarded for good shots, said Funk, who had nine one-putt birdies, five from 7 feet or closer. Im tired of getting interrupted all the time, but you just kind of roll with it. The opportunities were there. It was a good little stretch there after a bad start.
 
Funk had just hit his drive at the par-4 18th when lightning forced a stoppage. Play was originally set to resume at 4:40 p.m., but with another band of thunderstorms in the area tournament officials decided to wait another hour.
 
Five of the players in close pursuit of Funk also won the B.C. Open at En-Joie when it was part of the PGA Tour: Kite in 1978, Haas in 1981, Sindelar in 1985 and 1987, Hulbert in 1989, and Sluman in 2001.
 
I always feel Ive won here before, I can do it again, Haas said. The look at every shot is still the same as it was 28 years ago. I feel comfortable here. I feel like I can contend here because of what happened in 1981. I felt pretty confident coming in here.
 
Bean struggled to overcome the sore tendon he tore in his left foot at the Principal Charity Classic in late May, taking time during the delay to freeze the foot and ride an exercise bike.
 
Its kind of funny being in a good position. This is my third round of golf in a month, Bean said. The putter is working, what can I say? Thats a very pleasant thing. I hit it close, inside 2 feet four times.
 
Players and caddies donned small green ribbons in honor of fellow golfer Ken Green, whose lower right leg was amputated in mid-June following a recreational vehicle accident in which his girlfriend and brother died.
 
After the previous Champions Tour event in Texas in early June, Greens RV blew a tire, sending the vehicle careening off a Mississippi highway, down an embankment and into a large oak tree, destroying the front of the vehicle. Also killed in the crash was Greens pet German shepherd, Nip, which he had saved six years ago by diving into a Florida canal and rescuing it from an alligator attack.
 
The golf world took another hit on Sunday when the wife of PGA golfer Chris Smith was killed in a car accident in northern Indiana.
 
I know Ken and Chris, theres just no way anybody can really fathom what theyre going through, said Funk, whose mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer on Thursday. But our prayers and blessings are with them.
 
Divots: 1984 B.C. Open champ Wayne Levi, playing in his first tournament since heart bypass surgery, was at 1 under through 15 holes. Defending champion Eduardo Romero and R.W. Eaks, the inaugural Dicks winner in 2007, finished at 3 under.
 
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    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


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    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

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    Man of the people


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    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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    Departure from TaylorMade


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    Squashed beef with Paddy

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    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm