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Notes Bring on the Funk

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- Fred Funk's coming out party was the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine when he was the crowd favorite on the way to a tie for fourth.
He got some of the same treatment -- 'Funk Fever' as it was known then -- from the crowd at Shinnecock Hills on Friday in the second round of the U.S.Open.
'The fans aren't quite as behind me as they were at Hazeltine, but it was pretty neat,' he said after a second-round 66 -- his lowest score ever in an Open -- left him at 4-under 136, tied for fourth, two strokes behind leaders Phil Mickelson and Shigeki Muryama. 'I'm hearing a lot of that out here. They're just wearing me out with that but it's a lot of fun.'
Funk, who turned 48 on Monday, has one Top Ten finish in 15 Open appearances, a tie for seventh at Baltusrol in 1993 when he had a 67 in the third round. He has five wins on the PGA Tour and was best known for being the former golf coach at the University of Maryland until he spent most of that PGA at Hazeltine two years ago gyrating after chip-ins and high-fiving with the crowd.
'Yeah, it's fun to get back in contention,' he said. 'Hopefully I can keep this going and have a lot of fun on Sunday and make a run at this thing.'
He closed his round Friday with two birdies as part of a 3-under 32 on the back nine.
'I thought that was cool to shoot 32 on the last nine in a U.S. Open,' he said. 'This course has eaten my lunch the last two times I played it. It felt good to have a good round under my belt.'
Funk didn't make the cut at Shinnecock in 1986 or 1995. He has played the weekend the last two years, finishing tied for 44th in 2002 and tied for 35th last year.
He was asked if he thinks he fits the profile of an Open champion, someone who hits the ball straight off the tee with a good short game.
'Absolutley. I think I could be,' he said. 'I hope and wish I was hitting the ball as solid as I'm capable of. Each day has gotten a little bit better. I've had a little more faith when I'm over the ball.'
The shortest hole on Shinnecock Hills produced the highest score and biggest turnaround of the first two rounds.
Miguel Angel Jimenez had a sextuple-bogey 9 on No. 11, a 158-yard par-3. He missed to the right of the green in a dropoff area and tried five times to putt the ball onto the green, twice almost making the short grass, only to see the law of gravity bring the ball back to his feet.
He finally chipped on and two-putted for the 9, a number that seems even worse because he finished with a 7-over 77.
Jimenez played that hole as his second of the second round on Friday and came away with a par. He finished with a 69 and 6-over 146 total, one stroke -- one of those misguided putts -- over the cut.
Chad Campbell double-bogeyed the last two holes Friday for a 74 that left him at 146, one shot off the cut. Justin Leonard double-bogeyed his final hole for a 75 that left him one shot shy of playing on the weekend.
Among those getting to play on the weekend are Tom Kite (143) and the father-son combination of Jay Haas (140) and Bill Hass (145).
The cut was the lowest of the recent Opens played at Shinnecock Hills. In 1986, the cut was 10-over 140 and in 1995 it was 6-over 146.
David Duval's return to competitive golf after an eight-month layoff wasn't a success as far as scores went, but that didn't matter to the 2001 British Open champion who said he played here because it was the U.S. Open and he just felt like playing.
'For what I was trying to accomplish I think I did that,' Duval said after completing a second-round 82 that left him at 25-over 165, 155th in the field of 156.
Duval said he would play at the British Open next month.
'I'll be at Troon. I don't know if I'll play before then but I may,' he said.
Duval said he hit more good shots than he expected and was disappointed when the second round came to an end and he obviously missed the cut.
'I was anxious to continue but 83-82 doesn't let you do that,' he said.
He's a college student who just turned 20 this week, admits to anger management problems and smokes a pack of cigarettes a day.
On Thursday he made the only hole-in-one of this U.S. Open. And, for a while Friday, Spencer Levin had another claim to fame -- he was on the U.S. Open leaderboard.
With his father on his bag, Levin chainsmoked his way around Shinnecock Hills and up the leaderboard before a few stumbles at the end left him at 2-over 142.
Still, Levin is playing on the weekend, not bad for a former high school baseball player who won his California high school state golf championship while playing only once a week as a sophomore.
'I'm just trying to think of it as another tournament, even though it's the U.S. Open,' Levin said. 'I try to pretend I'm just playing with my buddies.'
Levin's father, Dan, played in the 1983 Open, missing the cut. When his son decided to quit baseball and concentrate on golf, he was there to teach him. Levin plays for the University of New Mexico.
Levin missed a 2-footer on the last hole to end on a sour note, hanging his head as he left the green. He's been known to get angry on the course, once arguing loudly with his father at the California State Amateur.
When he aced the 179-yard 17th on Thursday -- his first ever hole in one -- he refused his dad's suggestion to hit 7-iron, opting for an 8-iron. On Friday, he birdied the same hole.
'It's easier not to get mad when 1,000 people are watching you,' Levin said. 'I'm sure if I was playing with my buddies I might have thrown a club.'
As for the cigarettes he smoked all day long?
'I'm trying to quit,' he said. 'It's hard, really hard.'
Minitour veteran David Roesch was one of the surprises of the first round with a 2-under 68.
'My mailbox was full with 30 or 40 messages and I just couldn't listen to them all, let alone return them,' he said after a 73 Friday meant he made the cut in his first Open appearance. 'The coolest thing was when I woke up this morning I was on the front page of The New York Times -- not the sports section, the front page of the whole paper. I'm a nobody from the Hooters Tour on the front page of The New York Times.'
'I'm going to go talk a police officer into shooting me.' -- Charles Howell III when asked what he would do during the afternoon while waiting to see if his 5-over 145 would make the cut. It did.
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - U.S. Open
  • U.S. Open Photo Gallery
  • TV Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
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