The Funkster Still a Youngster
The Merry Funkster just won on the Champions Tour for the first time. It happened last week at the AT&T Championship, in his third effort at the elders tour. But what the hey ' Freddie looks like he isnt nearly ready to join the seniors.
He has played 28 times on the PGA TOUR this year, and he only missed the cut in three of them. He missed only once since the Nissan back in February, and that was in the Masters. Along the way he finished second once, finished in top 10 three times, and has won enough money (more than $1.5 million) to stand 46th amongst the juniors.
Pardon me, but why should he go over and join the mellow swingers when he can score that well with the kids? To prove the point, this week he will be right back on the regular tour, playing at the Chrysler Championship near Tampa.
The age thing I think is way overplayed, I really do, said Fred. I'm almost tired of hearing the age thing as an issue, because Jay Haas played unbelievable golf and still is right now. Loren Roberts could come out here (on the regular tour) and play. Hale Irwin was the epitome of a guy playing great at age 50.
You know, I think if you take care of yourself and you're motivated - really with this game, to a point, maybe there is when you get 55, 56, there seems to be a line where your physical abilities drop off a little bit. But if you take care of yourself and you're motivated, I don't think there's a reason you can't play.
Funk turned 50 in June, and he still looks like he is one of the better American players. Haas, remember, continued to take a regular turn on the PGA TOUR until he was 51, and in his 50th year he finished No. 27 on the money list. But in his 51st year, at age 51, he slipped to No. 151 and this year has confined his activity to mostly Champions Tour events. However, he has made the cut in five regular-tour events this year at age 52, and has risen as high as T-22 in the Wachovia Champions. Haas also made the cut in both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
So Funk has plenty of precedent for playing the regular tour ' and playing it well. But no one has really played it well more than one year after they turned 50. By the time they are 52, everyone has to accept the smaller fields, the three-day schedules, the much greater sense of camaraderie. And Funk, who plays this game with such boyish abandon, probably will, too.
I think I'm going to cherry-pick a little bit, Fred said after his 50th birthday. He meant that, since he can now play whenever he wanted to on either tour, he would jump around a little.
Funk didnt win in either of his first two starts, finishing tied for 11th in both. And he had to overcome a 65 on the final day by Chip Beck to win the AT&T.
He has a rather humorous reputation of being the shortest hitter on tour (he ranked 201st this year.) But he will be right in the mix among the over-50 set ' 13th if you use his Champions Tour statistics of 280 yards, No. 28 if his PGA TOUR stats (271) are used.
However, he has to find a way to get more putts to drop. He would rank only around No. 40 amongst the seniors, and everybody knows that the Champions Tour is all about putting.
My short game has not been very good, Freddie confessed. You've got to have that. I've been struggling with my putter all year. I've been using the claw off and on, and that's been my most consistent. It's going to depend on my short game. I'm going to need to have that scoring part of my game to work. And everybody does here. That's the club you need the most. You got to keep it in play with the driver and then finish it off with the putter.
The senior tour definitely needs a winning Fred Funk, a consistently successful Fred Funk. When? As soon as possible. But first of all, he still has some unfinished business.
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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
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."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
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.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“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
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.
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.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18