Local favorite will sit out U.S. Open for first time in four years
Fred Funk stepped away from his ball on the 14th hole Monday at Woodmont Country Club, swirled his index finger, stared at the tree tops, and shook his head. He was trying to judge the wind in the U.S. Open Sectionals.
He never quite figured it out. A day after finishing fourth in the Principal Charity Classic in Iowa, Funk, 55, was flummoxed by the swirling winds and tough set-up at Woodmont. Shooting a one-over-par 72-73 – 145 in the 36-hole qualifier, Funk came up two strokes short in his attempt to make it to the Open for the 23rd time.
“It was a tough day,” Funk said. “You have pretty firm greens, fast, and tough pins, and you got a lot of wind. It played tough. The scores are showing it.”
Funk, who shot a final-round 66 in the Champions Tour event on Sunday, found the North Course at Woodmont much more difficult, as it was set up at 7,168 yards.
“I love this golf course,” Funk said. “It really rewards the guy that’s playing the best. I like that. And in these conditions today, you had to be on your game, that’s for sure.”
Funk, a Northwestern High graduate and former player and coach at the University of Maryland, was followed by 50-75 fans throughout his afternoon round and treated them to some of his trademark wedge play.
His best moment came when he holed out from the fairway on No. 10 for an eagle. Another brilliant wedge from under a tree and straight uphill at No. 15 settled eight feet past the pin, but Funk missed the birdie putt. Funk accurately figured that he needed to finish at 1-under-par to have a chance to advance for the fourth straight year through the Woodmont qualifier.
“I knew that was the number to go after,” Funk said. “I let a few get away, so it’s disappointing.”
Funk still enjoyed the day, chatting up old friends, and spending time with his son, Taylor, a scratch player who is home schooled and competed this year as a sophomore at Ponte Vedra High.
Funk’s first three U.S. Opens (1985-87) came when he was still golf coach at Maryland. Don’t be surprised if he’s back at Woodmont next year, trying to get into the Open again.
“I’ll keep trying as long as I think I can compete,” Funk said. “I love the U.S. Open atmosphere. That really was my goal. I wasn’t so much getting to Olympic. It was to getting to the U.S. Open.”