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Insulted Funk makes his return to golf

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Fred Funk is annoyed in his typically charming manner.

He believes he’s the forgotten man with the new Champions Tour beginning in earnest with the season-opener on the American mainland this week at the Ace Group Classic in Naples, Fla.

Funk, 53, will make his first start since undergoing right knee replacement surgery in November.

“I get a little fired up,” Funk told Mark Wood, Tim Rosaforte and myself during our Saturday morning Golf World On-Air radio program. “Whenever I hear projections of who is going to play well on the Champions Tour, I am not even mentioned. So, I have a little fight in me about that.”

Funk wanted to play the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii, but his doctor wouldn't let him.

“Now he gave me the green light,” Funk said.

Paul Azinger is big news in Naples, where he’s making his Champions Tour debut. Fred Couples also is in the field in his second senior-circuit start. Funk is heading there intent on reminding people he can still play.

Funk says he plans to play a full schedule this season, including five or six PGA Tour events. He will play the Puerto Rico Open and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. He’s also in The Players Championship as a past champ and in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach as the winner of last year’s U.S. Senior Open.

“I’m ready to go,” Funk said of his knee. “I will have a lot of good days and some bad days, but I will have more good days than bad as time goes on.”