Fred Finally Out of His Funk

By Golf Channel NewsroomJune 22, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Booz Allen ClassicFred Funk pumps his arms high above his head; he runs around and hi-fives fans; he plays practice rounds with his son Taylor by his side.
 
Hes 48 years old and coming off two of the best seasons ever in his 16 years on the PGA Tour.
 
FUN is not just part of Funks name; its what he exudes on the golf course -- at least when he's playing well.
 
But up until last week, Funk had not been playing well in 2004, and things had not been fun.
 
Two years ago, Funk finished 13th on the money list with four runner-up finishes. His year was highlighted by an inspirational run at the PGA Championship at Hazeltine, where he rode an emotional tidal wave, fueled by fan support, to a tie for fourth ' his best-ever finish in a major.
 
He earned over $2 million for the second straight season, in 2003, and had nine top-10s, including a tie for second in the FBR Capital Open, which will be contested this week as the Booz Allen Classic.
 
But instead of carrying all that momentum over into 2004, and finally breaking through with his first tour title since 1998, Funk has gone backwards a little bit, as he said last week at Shinnecock Hills.
 
Funk entered the U.S. Open with seven missed cuts in 16 starts and only two top-10s.
 
Ive been a little disappointed, after coming off such a good year last year and the year before. I had such high expectations; maybe thats what did it. I had big goals, and I havent played to that level yet, Funk said.
 
While much has been made of Ernie Els six-week tournament stretch that culminated at the Open, Funk will be playing his eighth straight event this week at the Tournament Players Club at Avenel in Potomac, Md.
 
Im struggling with my ball-striking a little bit. Ive been working unbelievably hard ' I havent hit so many balls as I have the last six weeks, Funk said after the second round at Shinnecock.
 
That statement is astounding, because ball-striking is Funks forte. But hes not talking about his driving. Funk still leads the tour in driving accuracy ' a statistical category he has topped six of the last nine seasons.
 
Its his iron play that has befuddled him.
 
During the same nine-year span in which he has six times led the tour in finding fairways, he has never been lower than 57th on tour in greens hit in regulation.
 
This year, however, he is 122nd (he was 103rd prior to the U.S. Open). Despite hitting 78.8 percent of his fairways, hes hitting on 62.7 percent of his greens in regulation.
 
Its a struggle. The game is usually not this hard for me. Its become harder the last six or seven weeks, he said.
 
I was even having trouble hitting good shots on the range. I practiced for three or four hours walking away feeling like I didnt accomplish anything, and last week (at the Buick Classic) it came around a little bit.
 
Funk missed the cut by a stroke at Westchester Country Club, but was pleased with his play. He then opened in 70-66 at the U.S. Open to get within two strokes of the half-way lead. He led the championship on the back nine on Saturday, before settling three strokes off the 54-hole pace.
 
Like most everyone, he struggled Sunday, shooting 77 to finish alone in sixth.
 
With his game, perhaps, out of its funk, Funk heads to an area where he is very comfortable. The University of Maryland graduate was the head golf coach at his alma mater from 1982 to 1988. He made it through the qualifying tournament in 88 and played the tour full time in 89. He finished his first full season on tour 157th on the money list and went back to Q-School, where he again graduated.
 
He hasnt since been back.
 
Funk has finished no worse than 91st in earnings since 89, and has collected five victories.
 
He has played this event, which was known as the Kemper Open from its inception in 1968 to 2002, 18 times. He has seven missed cuts, but also a pair of top-3 finishes, including last years runner-up.
 
Funk finished tied for second along with Joe Durant and Duffy Waldorf; four shots behind winner Rory Sabbatini.
 
Sabbatini picked up his second career tour win by holding onto the 36- and 54-hole lead. The event was contested the week before the U.S. Open last year.
 
He nearly earned win No. 3 two weeks ago, when he and Padraig Harrington lost in a three-way playoff to Sergio Garcia at the Buick Classic.
 
Sabbatini, who is trying to become the first player since Craig Stadler in 1982 to repeat as champion, is one of 11 past winners in the field; a list that includes major winners Rich Beem (1999), Justin Leonard (1997), Lee Janzen (1995) and Mark Brooks (1994).
 
The tournament will move to a major venue next season, when it is played at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., site of the 1997 U.S. Open. It will be played the week before the 2005 U.S. Open, which will be played in Pinehurst, N.C.
 
The TPC at Avenel has hosted the tournament each of the last 17 years. Congressional was the host the seven years before that, from 1980-86.
 
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    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.

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    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

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    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.”

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    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.