FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - Fred Funk celebrated his 53rd birthday Sunday deep-sea fishing off the Florida coast near his home in Ponte Vedra Beach. He caught some grouper, sea bass and red snapper, but the excursion almost forced him to give himself the hook from U.S. Open.
Funk, who is still recovering from a staph infection in his right knee, got a reprieve when the 109th U.S. Open was suspended after a little more than three hours of play Thursday because heavy precipitation made the Black Course at Bethpage State Park unplayable. The first round is expected to resume at 7:30 a.m. Friday, giving Funk a much-needed extra day of rest.
The story with Funk is that the choppy seas put a lot of strain on the damaged joint. He was on the boat for eight hours. He wanted to get off after 30 minutes.
"That was probably not a good idea," Funk said with a chuckle. "The knee was great, it was coming along really good. Still a limp, but no pain swinging. I didn't really anticipate the waves being that big action; my knee just couldn't handle standing almost all day in that boat. We were in agitate mode. I aggravated something."
The week after the 2008 Players Championship, Funk underwent arthroscopic surgery and only missed a month of action. But the knee, void of cartilage, never healed properly, and Funk had to have it drained of fluid 18 times before developing a staph infection in December. He returned again in February after heavy doses of antibiotics, playing with a heavy brace on his knee. But in the last few weeks he no longer needed the brace, except when he competed in the 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier at Woodmont CC in Rockville, Md., where he won one of the last spots by surviving a four-hole playoff.
"I walked 40 holes in one day to get here," said Funk, who could only manage nine holes of practice since he arrived at Bethpage on Monday. "If I felt like I did the first day when I played six holes and then had to walk off the course, I don't know if I could play."
He was girding for a long week even before Thursday's weather delay.
"Physically, I'm a NASCAR wreck. Went into the fence, spun a few times, some parts flew into the stands," he said. "That's just the physical part, which is going to be tough enough, because this is a tough walk, even if you're healthy. Mentally, I'm just pitiful. But it is what it is. I just have to muddle through it best I can."
-- Dave Shedloski