Hats Off to Funky Tiger


A lot of people, judging by many of the e-mails that arrived here earlier this week, didnt get the joke. Fortunately, Fred Funk and his caddie did.
Trademark infringement, Funk huffed. I had a patent.
That was copyrighted, added Funks caddie, Mark Long. Weve got to sue them.
Funk and Long were referring to the hat spike Tiger Woods performed on the 18th green Sunday at Bay Hill after making the lengthy birdie putt that beat Bart Bryant by a shot on the 72nd hole of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
It was suggested (by me in my Monday column on this Web site) that Woods had taken a page from Funks book when Funk had similarly spiked his hat after making what turned out to be the winning putt on the 72nd hole of the 2005 PLAYERS.
My tongue was lodged firmly in my cheek when I wrote that Woods was stealing the scene Funk had famously made two years ago. Funk, bless him, got it immediately.
Actually, added the self-effacing Funk this week, there was a difference. When Tiger made his putt at Bay Hill he knew it was to win the golf tournament. When I made mine I was just happy to have made a putt of any kind. I had been three-putting all over the place on the last nine holes. It was a relief just to get one in the hole.
Long said that long before Woods pulsating Sunday victory Funk asked Woods where he comes up with the theatrics that so often accompany his great golf shots on the big stages.
Woods reply to Funk, according to Long, was, I have no idea.
Funk is off this week nursing sore cartilage in his right knee. He says he still plans to play 15 events on the Champions Tour and 15 events on the PGA TOUR this season.
But, he added, still plans to complete, with help from his doctor, what most agree is an ambitious schedule for a player who turns 52 in June. Its getting tougher walking the hills right now, said Funk.
His next scheduled PGA TOUR starts are the Verizon Heritage in April and THE PLAYERS in May. In four events on the Champions Tour this year Funk has one victory. In six events on the PGA TOUR he has posted one top-10. Both the win and the top-10 came in Hawaii in January.
As for Woods and his current streak of five straight official TOUR victories, Funk said, I predicted early in the year that he could go undefeated if he got past the Match Play. Now that hes done that it seems like the others are almost guaranteed.
It seems like hes in a place in his life that hes never been before. It looks like hes got more awareness of his own personality and his swing. There doesnt seem to be anything pulling on him from the outside. Hes ready to rock and roll.
Butch Harmon, Adam Scott, Fred Couples and Nick Watney comprised a foursome at Augusta National Monday as part of their early preparation for next months Masters.
Scott said he was impressed, in no particular order, with the course condition; Couples grasp of Augusta Nationals subtleties; and the seamlessness with which tournament officials have added new hole locations on the seventh and ninth greens.
The course is looking perfect, Scott said. The greens were rolling really good.They have got plenty of grass coverage, so they can start cutting it down any time they want now.
Flamboyant Ian Poulter, the Doug Sanders of the 21st century, wont reveal what he will be wearing at Augusta National this year. But his design company, appropriately named Ian Poulter Design, will have his spring summer line in UK stores in time for the first round of the Masters April 10.
Will the theme be green? Poulter was recently asked. Ive got lots of colors in my wardrobe, he said.
Ian certainly pushes the boundaries, said the more conservative Scott, when asked about Poulters wardrobe proclivities. Thats for sure.

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