Funk shot 5-under 66 to share top honors with English prodigy Nick Dougherty, Swedens Joakim Haeggman, Australian Peter OMalley and Eduardo Romero of Argentina.
Colin Montgomerie, looking to become the first player in tournament history to win this event four times, is only one back after a 67. Hes tied with, among others, Lee Westwood, who hasnt won on tour in two years.
Westwood supplanted Montgomerie at the top of the Volvo Order of Merit (money list) for the first time in eight seasons in 2000. But since, he has dropped to 95th in the Official World Golf Ranking. The 29-year-old Englishman wasnt even eligible for this years U.S. Open.
I think missing the U.S. Open was a blessing in disguise, Westwood said. The way I played recently, I didnt deserve to be in the field. And to be perfectly honest, I wouldnt have enjoyed it the way Ive been playing.
Westwood would have been among the leaders were it not for a bogey at the last on the Fota Island Golf Course.
Funk, likewise, made a late bogey to finish in the fivesome at minus 5. The 46-year-old played alongside Seve Ballesteros Thursday, and watched helplessly as the former great was disqualified after shooting an 89.
The 45-year-old Spaniard signed for a 10 at the last when he scored a 12. Ballesteros realized his mistake and phoned European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor to admit his error.
Ballesteros, who also had a nine at No. 10, hit his second shot into the greenside pond at the 507-yard 18th.
His first chip from the drop area went into the water, then his second and third attempts hit the bank and rolled back into the water. His fourth attempt, his 10th shot, landed on the green and he two-putted.
Said Funk, who played with Ballesteros for the first time: It is sad. I hate to see it. Hes been such a great player in the past. He looks as good as ever over the ball, but, obviously, doesnt trust his swing.
Funk had no problems with his swing, making six birdies and a bogey at the par-4 16th. He is seeking his first win anywhere since his 1998 triumph in the PGA Tours Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic. He has one international victory ' the 1993 Mexican Open.
Full-field scores from the Murphy's Irish Open