The Loop

Funk's short and straight serves him well

June 18, 2010

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Length off the tee isn't usually a factor in navigating Pebble Beach GL, the third-shortest U.S. Open layout in the last decade. But it sure doesn't hurt when playing Nos. 2 and 9, which are the two longest par-4s on the course at 502 and 505 yards, respectively.

Just ask the guy who birdied both of them on Friday. That would be the long-hitting Fred Funk.

OK, so he's not the long-hitting Fred Funk; his reputation is accuracy off the tee. He is long in the tooth, though, having turned 54 on Monday and qualifying for the Open by winning last year's U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind. -- which, by the way, is a long poke from Carmel-By-The-Sea, the quaint coastal town just south of Pebble.

While Tom Watson rightfully is the senior golfer garnering all the attention this week, Funk has quietly gone about his business, and his 1-over 72 Friday left him at 4-over 146, well inside the cutline. "I'm just playing solid, and I'm stealing a few shots here and there," he said.

Funk, who has been playing through assorted knee problems, was referring to those unlikely birdies. "How about that? And I made one on 13 [445 yards, par 4] yesterday, too," he said. "I have battled really well. I'm pretty happy, though I feel like I could be even lower."

Yeah, well, he could have eagled a few par-5s too.

-- Dave Shedloski