Funky Rounds for Fred and Tiger

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 20, 2003, 5:00 pm
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Fred Funk had one of those days Thursday, and so too did Tiger Woods.
 
The difference is Funk hopes his continues.
 
Funk needed only 23 putts on the tabletop Riviera greens en route to shooting 6-under 65 in the opening round of the Nissan Open.
 
He holds the lead over Cameron Beckman, Steve Elkington, Nick Price and Jeff Sluman. All four shot 3-under 68.
 
Darkness suspended play at 5:45 PM local time. Fifteen players resumed their first rounds Friday morning at 7:30 AM.
 
Only 15 players broke par, as afternoon rounds took roughly 5 1/2 hours on an increasingly windy Southern California Thursday.
 
Woods was among the last groups to finish. He shot 1-over 72, bogeying the 17th hole when he three-putted from six feet. After missing the short birdie putt, a cell phone went off in the follow-through of his four-foot par save.
 
'Turn off the [expletive] phone,' he shouted.
 
Woods cursed at the man as the cell phone continued to ring. It was still going off as he was escorted from the course.
 
'It was a long, tough day,' Woods admitted.
 
Woods is seeking his first Nissan Open title in his sixth start as a professional. He's played this event more than any other on tour without winning.
 
The pre-tournament favorite is fresh off his victory in the Buick Invitational ' his first start of the season after knee surgery ' and Funk is sure he will contend despite starting seven strokes back.
 
I expect him to be in the top five, top three, top one by Sunday, Funk said.
 
David Duval was in Tiger's threesome Thursday and had what he described as, 'Fun for the whole family.'
 
Duval twice chipped in and caught a magnificent break at the last when his approach shot ricocheted off a tree guarding the right side of the green and onto the putting surface, 30 feet from the hole. He two-putted for par and a round of 2-under 69.
 
'The first couple of events I played pretty well and didn't score. Today I didn't play all that good and scored,' Duval rationalized. 'It's in pieces, but I'm getting the puzzle.'
 
Defending champion Len Mattiace also shot 69. He double bogeyed his final hole of the day.
 
Funk dropped a shot at No. 9, his 18th, as well, but that was one of the only flaws in his gem of a round.
 
Starting at the par-4 10th, Funk made five birdies, including three putts of at least 20 feet. He also made a 15-footer for par at 13 and two-putted from 120 feet for par at 15.
 
Despite not taking advantage of the par-5 first, Funk saved par from 20 feet at the second.
 
'That was probably the best I ever putted for 11 holes,' he said.
 
He then made three consecutive birdies starting at No. 6, culminated in a 20-foot putt at the eighth.
 
The theme of the day was my putter was hot, said Funk, who had 11 one-putts.'
 
Funk, 46, had one of his best years as a professional in 2002. He didn't win, but ended 13th on the money list thanks to four runner-up finishes and a tie for fourth in the PGA Championship.
 
Last week, Funk tied for 28th, shooting 64 on the easier North Course, but 71-76-77 on the 7,607-yard South Course.
 
I was behind the 8-ball with the length of that golf course, he said. I couldnt even reach a couple of the par-4s the way I was driving it.
 
Though he hit only nine of 14 fairways Thursday, Funk entered the week once again leading the tour in driving accuracy at over 80 percent; however, hes 156th in distance at 276.6 yards.
 
My driver game is horrendous right now, he admitted. Im not a power player by any means, and Im even shorter lately.
 
This weeks venue has been stretched out to 7,174 yards. Funk believes the course is playable for the shorter hitters, even though he dislikes the revamped eighth hole -- 'a great example of golf-course design ruining a good hole,' he said -- and No. 12 -- 'The green is designed for an 8-iron coming in, not a long iron or wood,' he added.
 
And with the greens as hard as they are, it will take a few more magical putting days to keep him in the lead.
 
The one thing that makes it more difficult for the shorter hitters is the firmness of the greens, because I have to come in with more club, Funk said. It is going to bring the guys that hit the ball further up the leaderboard.
 
I would have to have three more days of 23, 25, 26 putts to stay up there. Not that I cant do it, but I am very realistic about my game.
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Nissan Open
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    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    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."

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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    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.

    “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

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    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.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    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.


    Masters victory


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    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

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    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

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    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm