Tiger and the Funkmaster
How can anyone who watches golf not be thrilled by Fred Funk’s win at the US Senior Open? You have to love this guy. Sure he doesn’t have the swagger of Greg Norman or the legendary status of Tom Watson but he does have his ever present smile, the championship trophy and a perspective on life that we all could learn from. Funk is the ex-Maryland golf coach that almost gave up on playing the tour a few years ago. He made the right decision and he has blossomed as a late bloomer. This is Funk’s fifth Champion’s Tour title and his second major to go with his eight PGA Tour wins. Funk made up for last week when he lost the Senior Open Championship in a playoff. He’ll try to continue his hot streak next week when he defends his other major title at the Jeld-Wen Tradition in Oregon.
Funk appears to have put his injury and health issues behind although there still seems to be a hint of a limp in his gait. He had knee surgery, shoulder issues and an infection that was very serious. His recovery has allowed him to get back to what he loves doing, playing golf with his buddies. In fact he still competes with the young guns on the PGA Tour and says he’ll continue to play on both tours as long as he can. His win here gets him into next year’s US Open at Pebble Beach.
Fred Funk is known for his positive outlook and fun loving manner. He loves what he is doing and it shows. Always thoughtful and classy, as Dottie Pepper interviewed him after he sank his last putt his first thought was to ask everyone to keep Ken Green, Chris Smith, Phil Mickelson’s wife and mother in their thoughts and prayers. After he was done he gave Dottie a hug. How can you not love this guy?
Does this get old? Tiger wins another tournament. Tiger wins another tournament without his A-game. Tiger wins another tournament where his competition wilts under pressure. Tiger wins another tournament two weeks before a major. So Woods wins for the fourth time this season and he was not even playing his best. Four wins is a career for mere mortal PGA Tour players. For Tiger it’s a training camp for the majors. It’s like winning the Canadian Football League Championship. It’s nice but it’s not going to change your life. Tiger will take the trophy and cash the check, but the only thing that will change after this win better be his percentage of fairways hit. He barely hit half the fairways this week but was able to hit plenty of greens. You can do that in the Buick Open, but that will not work in a major championship like The PGA in two weeks. It’s all about the majors for Tiger. A season with half a dozen wins would still be a disappointment for Tiger if one of those wasn’t a major.
This wasn’t one of Tiger’s blow ‘em away wins. He did his low scoring on Friday and Saturday. His 69 was just a tad better than the scoring average for the field on Sunday. This was more a battle of attrition as Woods stayed bogey free (3 birds) and his challengers never made a real charge. Tiger collected his 69th PGA Tour win here and he’ll be playing in another of his favorite tournaments this week, The World Golf Championships at Firestone before next week’s PGA Championship. It’s just another tune up for his last chance to make his season a success.