Just over seven weeks after total reconstruction of his right knee, Fred Funk visited his doctor in Jacksonville on Wednesday hoping to get clearance that would allow him of reaching his goal:
Playing in the season-opening Champions Tour event, the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai on Jan. 22.
The bionic golfer didn't get it.
While impressed with Funk's rehabilitation and recovery, Dr. David Heekin recommended that he wait until the regular season opens at the ACE Group Classic, Feb. 12-14 in Naples, Fl.
While disappointed about the decision, Funk is optimistic about his overall return. "No, I'm not OK with it, but I've got to be OK with it," Funk said. "[Heekin] said everything looks great, that I'm way ahead of the game, but it's just too early to be pushing that knee hard."
Funk wanted to play Hualalai out of a cart and then play the Northern Trust Open at Riveria CC on his way back to the mainland. The defending U.S. Senior Open champion has been hitting balls for three weeks, but his physical therapist in Ponte Vedra, Matt Serlo, was happy with the decision to back off now.
"He's progressing better than anybody I've ever seen with total-knee replacement," Serlo said "We both feel that by sacrificing one event he'll have four weeks to get in a little more work, let it heal a little bit more, and be ready to roll when Naples comes around."
- -- Tim Rosaforte*