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Funk Running Late for Open Date

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) -- Brad Faxon was trying out a utility driver that might be a good fit for Olympia Fields. Tom Kite was hitting the last few balls on the practice range.
Tiger Woods was long gone. The sun was setting, the crowds headed for the exit.
Fred Funk was just checking in.
Any other year, Funk would have arrived at the U.S. Open on a Sunday evening, gotten some rest and spent most of his time Monday learning the nuances of an unfamiliar golf course.
This time, Funk and several others had to stay an extra day to finish the rain-delayed Capital Open on the PGA Tour.
That was OK with him. Not only did he earn $336,000 for tying for second, Funk thinks too much practice time at a major can make him antsy.
'I tend to overanalyze everything,' he said. 'The better I play, the less I analyze.'
Plus, he has some help.
His caddie is Mark Long, who compiles yardage books on several golf courses and sells them to other loopers.
'I haven't seen the course, but he's been talking about it for three weeks,' Funk said. 'He thinks it will be real good for me.'
Funk and everyone else, whether they showed up Monday morning or Monday night, probably won't find out until the U.S. Open begins Thursday.
One thing is certain: It's no Bethpage Black.
Faxon hit his utility driver -- half iron, half fairway metal -- then turned and said, 'You could play this course without a driver.'
Dudley Hart finished his practice round and thought Olympia Fields would be a wide-open tournament, unlike last year when only the big hitters contended at big Bethpage Black.
'It's like you have to fit your ball in off the tee,' Hart said.
Home-course advantage would seem to go to Jeff Sluman, the only player among the 156-man field who lives in the Chicago area.
Care to guess how many times he has played Olympia Fields?
Including two trips to the course over the weekend, and a practice round Monday, Sluman has played four rounds in the last 10 years.
'A buddy was in town and wanted to play,' Sluman said, referring to his past experience. 'Everyone assumes I've played it a lot. Actually, I had to call my home course (Hinsdale Golf Club) on Saturday to get directions, because I forgot how to get here.'
Truth is, nobody knows much about the 80-year-old suburban course about 25 miles south of downtown Chicago.
The last U.S. Open at Olympia Fields was in 1928, when Johnny Farrell outlasted Bobby Jones by one stroke in a 36-hole playoff. The last major at Olympia was in 1961, when Jerry Barber won the PGA Championship in an 18-hole playoff over Don January.
So, Angel Cabrera felt just as much at home Monday as Sluman, who lives a lot closer than Argentina.
Cabrera sized up Olympia Fields with words like 'mas corto' (shorter) than last year's Bethpage Black, 'mucho peligro' (trouble everywhere) and 'campo duro' (tough course).
In other words, it's a typical U.S. Open.
'At any U.S. Open, you've got to drive it ... and then capitalize on the drive,' Sluman said. 'You don't necessarily -- especially when it's difficult -- have to have the hottest putter going. You just have to be automatic from tee to green.'
Rain was in the forecast for Tuesday, which could make it even tougher for Capital Open winner Rory Sabbatini, David Duval, Funk and other players arriving late. They might not see the course until the day before the U.S. Open starts.
That would be nothing new this year.
At the Masters, rain washed out the practice round Monday, washed out the Par 3 Tournament on Wednesday and forced the first round to be postponed.
Funk remembers squeezing in a practice round on Tuesday at Augusta National, then not hitting another shot until Friday morning in the first round.
'Driver and a 3-wood on the hole,' he said, referring to the 435-yard first hole.
Funk left Olympia Fields not much longer after he arrived. He only wanted to register, go to his room and sleep in.
The practice rounds can wait.
'You know where you need to hit it and where you can't hit it,' Funk said. 'So just don't hit it there.'
Woods arrived Monday at 7 a.m. He was gone by the time most players arrived, even if they weren't at the Capital Open.
Woods won three of his first four tournaments this year, but has not been in contention on the back nine Sunday since he won the Bay Hill Invitational by 11 strokes in March.
Even though Woods played the course two weeks ago with Michael Jordan, he will spend the next three days taking a crash course on Olympia Fields, just like most everyone else.
Related Links:
  • U.S. Open Home
  • Full Tournament Coverage
  • Olympia Fields Course Tour

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