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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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
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
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
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.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
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."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “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. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
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.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
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