Happy 51st Funk Solid on his Birthday

By Associated PressJune 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- Fred Funk, old enough to be a grandfather, doesn't mind being known as a golfer who prefers to keep it short and simple. At the U.S. Open, that supposed negative might be a big positive.
 
Funk celebrated his 51st birthday Thursday with a 1-over 71 at the U.S. Open, not good enough for the lead but the same score as Tiger Woods -- 20 years his junior and nearly as big a favorite as Funk is an underdog.
 
He played much younger than that at Oakmont, relying on an unusually hot putter, his seasoned instincts and an always-reliable driver -- he has been the PGA Tour's most accurate driver seven times -- for a steady round that left him three shots behind leader Nick Dougherty.
 
'Old course, old guy, good play,' Funk said.
 
Funk is an anomaly in golf -- old enough to play on the Champions Tour, a two-time winner there already, but still good enough to compete on the PGA Tour, where he became the oldest winner since 1975 earlier this year.
 
He plans on staying with the big boys until his game doesn't allow it, and he won the PGA Mayakoba Classic in March only a month after taking the Champions' Turtle Bay championship by a record 11 shots.
 
Despite winning the Players Championship two years ago, giving him a Tour exemption until 2010, he played his way into the U.S. Open via a qualifier.
 
'No, I'm not surprised,' Funk said of sneaking onto a leaderboard where many of the big names were way down the list. 'If I'm playing well, I know how good I can play. I'm more enthusiastic, more excited about my back being a little bit better because it's been a struggle since March, and last week was the first week I swung without any pain.'
 
Funk showed on No. 9 how experience can be an asset.
 
A trucker on the nearby Pennsylvania Turnpike blew his air horn in the middle of Funk's backswing on his tee shot -- startling him, but not enough to result in a terrible drive, though he did bogey the hole.
 
'I definitely flinched, but I ended up with a good drive,' Funk said. 'I was surprised how far it got out there -- obviously, it rolled a ton. That was a unique thing you've got to deal with here at the Open. You don't have too many courses with turnpikes running through the middle of them.'
 
Or too many tournaments where someone as old as Funk plays better than those 25 years younger.
 
Oakmont has two holes that are 600 yards-plus but, with the fairways so tight, Funk's accuracy kept him out of the trouble the longer hitters often find. Wary of getting into the deep rough at No. 12, which was playing 667 yards, he used a 3-wood despite his acknowledged lack of length off the tee.
 
Remember, Funk once donned a skirt during the Skins Game after being outdriven by Annika Sorenstam.
 
Funk, a former University of Maryland coach, came back from that bogey on No. 9 for a birdie on No. 10, dropping a putt 'that's either going to go in the hole or off the green.' He had two more birdies on the back nine, rolling in a 60-footer, by his estimate, on No. 15 and a 30-footer on No. 17.
 
Funk, an eight-time winner despite not going out onto the PGA Tour until he was 31, was surprised more in the field didn't drop similar putts, given how scoring conditions appeared to be better following a Wednesday thunderstorm that slightly slowed Oakmont's slick greens.
 
Funk didn't expect scores like the 62 he had in Mexico this year, but he also didn't anticipate seeing so many 76s and 77s.
 
'I thought some guys would get out there and get it today, because it was a lot different than when I was putting before the rain,' he said. 'It's a tough golf course, it keeps coming at you and you make a little mistake and it can turn into bad mistake.'
 
How Funk plays the final three rounds may be determined by how few of those big mistakes he makes -- his small game, he hopes, will limit that.
 
'I think par doesn't know an age if you're playing well,' Funk said.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry