POWs Positive Thinking and Funk

By Rich LernerFebruary 28, 2007, 5:00 pm
Hustling out of his hotel room in South Florida, Fred Funk considered the possibility. If he broke out the same skirt he donned at The Skins Game when Annika out drove him, he could take a run at victory on three different tours in the same year.
That would get a little coverage, he cracked.
Fred Funk
Fred Funk gives his son, Taylor, a hug after winning the Mayakoba Classic. (WireImage).
Funk annihilated the field in Hawaii to win on the Champions Tour in January, and this past weekend survived back pain in gutting out another on the PGA TOUR in Mexico. So how is a short-hitting, 50-year-old beating all comers?
Its a choice, he says plainly, between positive and negative thoughts.
And its a system developed by Lanny Bassham of Mental Management, a system that traces its roots to Egypt and the infamous Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam.
Bassham was an Olympic marksman. From 300 meters he could hit a target the size of an eraser in between heartbeats. Hed taken silver at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Two years later, bound for Cairo and The World Championships, he found himself seated next to a man who listened to Bassham wallow in negativity. The gentleman, Bassham would soon learn, had been released from a POW camp in Vietnam, shot down and then held in a 4-foot box for months.
The man was dying. He began to talk to God. Let me not suffer, he prayed. Rain then fell. From the leaves of a tree overhead, water funneled into his mouth. Sustained, he resolved to live, and began to think of things he loved, like sports.
The man would tell the struggling Olympian of a fellow prisoner who passed the time in captivity playing golf -- in his mind. He hit thousands of drives. He made putt after putt after putt. The man weighed 90 pounds upon release. Returning home to San Diego, he saw a golf course and instructed the driver to pull into the pro shop. He wanted to play, but was told he needed to be a member.
The man shuffled to the grill and a roomful of people. He introduced himself. Im a commander in the U.S. Navy and was shot down in Vietnam, he began. I just want to play golf.
The people stood, saluted and cried. The man played his round. Miraculously, he shot even par.
Thats impossible, someone said when hed finished. You havent played in years.
You dont understand, the man said. I havent missed a shot in six years.
Parable or fact, it mattered little. Bassham absorbed the lesson, the question lingering.
Are you living in a box or a free world?
Bassham won gold in 1976 in Montreal. More than three decades later he dispenses those principles learned on the road to Cairo to athletes and executives looking for an edge.
The system is about the positive imprinting of your mind, explains Funk.
If I hit a bad shot and then say, Oh, that figures or Thats typical, it shrinks my self image, Funk said. Im better off if after the bad shot I say, Thats not my normal shot or Im much better than that; so Im simply more positive as I move forward. Im looking for solutions instead of dwelling on the negative and what just happened.
Last week was a good test as he fought lower back pain. The sciatica majigee, was the self diagnosis from Dr. Funk. At a point Saturday, when he nearly walked in, he could barely swing as he made bogey at the 12th. It was then he decided simply, It is what it is. Im just going to do the best I can.
He got an adjustment on 13. He got mad at 14. I sort of adopted this feisty attitude, he said. I told myself I was going to win despite my back.
He went on to shoot 64 in round three. I was real proud of that round, he beamed.
On Sunday, he wasnt striking the ball well. He countered with a hot putter, and a steady mind. I wasnt going to let it go because of a bad attitude or a bad back, he emphasized. I chose not to do that.
Late last year Freds wife, Sharon, told me of their new quest, preparing to silence the skeptics who figured Fred had his moment of glory when he won The Players at 48.
He beats himself up, Sharon said. Hes not Woody Austin, but he beats himself up.
Im brutal on myself, Fred added in the October conversation. Im an upbeat guy, but I hadnt been positive on the golf course. This game creates opportunities to be negative. It beats you up.
Funk pointed to Tiger as the reverse example. He pictures himself winning long before he tees off. Hes got the edge on everybody.
Upon turning 50 last June, Funk buckled under the early pressure of being tabbed a Champions Tour savior and sure winner. His putting floundered. He left The Senior Players in Dearborn certain only that he had to change.
Three wins later, he says defiantly, Im not willing to be pinned in the box of negativity.
Email your thoughts to Rich Lerner

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.

Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.

Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.