Funk Struggles With Life at 50

By George WhiteJuly 5, 2006, 4:00 pm
So now its Fred Funk who hits the big 5-0 and tees it up with the gents of the Champions (read that Seniors) Tour. And, as can be expected, Fred says he will still be playing a full regular-tour schedule.
Its totally understandable, by the way. Fred will still be eligible for the regular tour until 2010, since he won The Players Championship last year. The rocking chair will wait for him, of course. Will it have to wait one year? Two years? You can bet your lunch money that the rocker wont have to wait until 2010. Fred will become a Champions Tour member exclusively long before then ' guaranteed.
Fred Funk
Fred Funk should be able to thrive on the Champions Tour.
This week Funk et al will play the U.S. Senior Open. It will be his first taste of the senior life. And my guess is that he will find it VERY appealing and very comfortable.
Of course, he still will have to undergo some mental rehabilitation ' he will have to be convinced that he no longer can be a consistent factor on the PGA TOUR. He may be a factor this year, possibly next when he is 51. But after next year ' a year and a half ' he will know on what side of the street he belongs.
It happens to hit just about all of the elders who reach the age of AARP. Jay Haas rebelled and he proved he could still play with the younger set when he was 50. By 51, though, he could see it was time to go gracefully on over. So did Craig Stadler. So is Loren Roberts, etc., etc. The gap is just too wide.
But it is difficult to just walk away from the regular tour after youve had some success in your 40s. For one thing, the money is so good ' four times what the Champions Tour pays. For another, the mind still says that you are just as good as you were five years ago. The body, though, says, Uh-huh. And of course its the body that means business.
Curtis Strange couldnt believe it when it happened to him. The calendar told him it was time to move on. His ego said, No, I can still play REAL golf. But the calendar always wins.
Its hard to let go of what weve done for 25-30 years on the regular tour, explains Strange. And because its the No. 1 game in town - youre competing against the young kids. I guess as we all get older, we still feel we can compete against the young kids. Eventually that wears out.
But its hard to let go. I kept thinking last year that if I worked harder and played a little bit better its not that I can compete on the regular tour, dont get me wrong. What Im saying is, its hard to let go. I found myself always kind of looking at the PGA TOUR, trying to keep in touch.
But then eventually after you see the guys out here and youre out here on a day-to-day basis, you get to where this is your life ' vs. the PGA TOUR.
Greg Norman continues to believe the Champions Tour is a bit beneath his playing ability, but his body has accumulated so much wear and tear that he cant play EITHER tour. Tom Kite really felt like he was capable of playing both tours last year at age 55, but he scampered back to the older gents in a hurry this year. Tom Watson made a half-hearted attempt at playing some on both tours when he was in his early 50s, but he never was really serious about trying to keep pace with the young men.
If you feel like you can play, Watson reasons, you still play. By all means, go for it - play both tours. I tried to do both when I first became a senior, but Ive pretty much determined that Id play as many majors as I could and use the senior tour early on to keep me sharp.
The more I played out here ' Im a lot shorter than the kids now. When I first came out here, I still had some comparable length. But the advances of the balls and clubs, and the kids conditioning, their suppleness ' I cant compete on that basis.
One Champions Tour player after another has said basically the same thing. Its really hard to let it go - sure it is, said Watson. But almost everyone who has hit the age 50 threshold has immensely enjoyed his days on the Champions Tour. And so will Fred Funk. He will learn that lesson shortly. There certainly is no harm in wringing every last drop out of the PGA TOUR coffers. But most 50-year-olds are much better placed playing against people their own age.
In Freds case, one reason for the emphasis on the regular tour this year is his determination to make the Ryder Cup team. He says he will only play three times as a senior, the rest on the regular tour as he gives an all-out effort to be on Tom Lehmans U.S. squad.
That goal is admirable. But once it is ' or isnt ' decided, Fred would be well advised to join fulltime in the senior fun. Life on the junior circuit isnt all its cracked up to be when you can be winning on the senior circuit.
Email your thoughts to George White
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Senior Open
  • Getty Images

    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

    Getty Images

    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

    Getty Images

    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

    Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.