Fred Funk and Jeff Klauk withdrew from the Transitions Championship on Wednesday. Funk has a problem with some cartilage in his chest while Klauk tweeted he isn’t feeling well.
@JEFFKLAUKpga Just WD from the tournament. Feeling terrible and need to head home. Innisbrook Is one of my favorite courses on tour as well
Funk was replaced by former Florida standout Billy Horschel while Richard S. Johnson replaced Klauk.
Ask Fred Funk to describe the 66 he shot on Saturday and he has a simple answer. “A good day with the putter,” the 53-year-old said with a shrug. “Just a good day with the putter.”
It was, indeed. Funk needed just 24 putts, his low total of the week, as he made six birdies, one eagle and two bogeys to move to 8 under for the tournament. The key, he said, was changing his grip on Friday.
“I hit the ball pretty good the last couple of weeks and I saw signs of it coming around but my putter was just horrible,” Funk explained. “The first round I putted poorly. I had a lot of opportunities and turned them into par.
“So I decided to go with the claw, or the pencil, of whatever you want to call it.”
His putter responded well in the second round, although Funk didn’t make as many birdies as he did on Saturday. Other than a 5-footer that he missed at the 14 th hole in the third round, the 53-year-old veteran was extremely pleased – particularly with that clutch 23-footer at the 18 th hole that salvaged par.
“I made a ton of putts, and making that last one after such a bad second shot makes up for a couple,” Funk said.
Funk, who won THE PLAYERS in 2005 and lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., really got his round going when he holed a “delicate” chip for birdie at the sixth hole. He went on to birdie four of his next five holes, too, as he made the turn.
“(I had a) perfect lie just didn’t have any green to work with,” Funk described the cup. “With kind of shot I was going to hit, flopping it up there, I probably had a foot to land it in and get it close. It came out perfect and I got on a little roll there.”
Not only was Funk using a new putting grip, he was playing with his third driver in three days. This one, the newest TaylorMade Burner driver, has a lower trajectory and tends to run further.
“That’s the one I like,” Funk said. “I got a lot more distance today because I had the run out on it. Trajectory-wise I was zipping it out there pretty good.”
The Champions Tour star, who had his right knee replaced in November, said he’s probably 75 percent right now. “But it was killing me the last 4-5 holes,” admitted Funk. “It’s getting better all the time, but it’s still got a ways to go.
“It’s just become a part of my every day deal.”
Funk said he is hoping that the greens on the Stadium Course will get “dry and cooked” as the day wears on. He couldn’t have asked for better scoring conditions, though, and the 66 he shot was one stroke off his career-best here.
“That’s one advantage of playing in the morning with the humidity that we’ve had and the softness of the greens, you get perfect scoring conditions,” Funk said. “I couldn’t complain about one spike mark.”
To replay Funk's round on Shot Tracker, click here. -- Helen Ross
FRED FUNK'S STATISTICS FROM ROUND 3
|Driving distance||Fairways hit||Greens in reg.||Putts needed||Sand saves|
|268.7 yards||10 of 14||11 of 18||24||0 of 1|
Fred Funk made par on his final two holes for a 6-under 66 that puts at 8 under for the tournament. That's his lowest round at THE PLAYERS Championship since he opened with a 65 in 2005 en route to winning the title that year, and it's just the 10th time in 91 career rounds in this event that he's broken 70.
Funk is still four shots off leader Lee Westwood's 12 under, so he may need a similar number on Sunday to win his second PLAYERS. But he has not broken 70 in any of his 15 final rounds at TPC Sawgrass.
Fred Funk has just made consecutive bogeys when he missed the greens at the par-4 14th and 15th and couldn’t convert 5 and 18-footers for par. He’s still 6 under for the tournament, though, and 4 under for the day.
The 53-year-old – who won THE PLAYERS in 2005 -- had a knee replacement last November. He shot 32 on the front nine making birdie putts of 10, 9 and 20 feet on the front nine, and chipping in for another from 50 feet on No. 6.
Funk rode that momentum early on the front nine when he made an 8-footer at the 10th hole and a 5-footer on the par-5 11th. He’s entering the difficult final three holes now so we’ll see if he can right the ship.
Looks like we’re in for some low scores today before the wind really kicks in. – Helen Ross
Fred Funk was watching the leaderboards all day. Only, he wasn't looking at the top, he was trying to see where the cut would fall.
The 53-year-old was even par when he made the turn on Friday -- two strokes shy of what he needed to play the weekend. But Funk, who makes his home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., played the back nine in 34 to make the cut on what turned out to be the number at 2 under.
"This could be my last PLAYERS Championship, so I didn't want to go down the weekend without playing," Funk said. "It meant a lot to me. You never want to miss the cut, especially at home."
Funk won THE PLAYERS in 2005, and this is the final year of his five-year exemption. He splits his time between the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour, but offseason knee replacement has slowed his progress in 2010.
An eight-time winner on the PGA TOUR who has five Champions Tour victories, Funk is coming off his best finish of the season in a tie for fourth at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Classic. He hasn't been happy with his putting, though, and he went to a claw grip on Friday.
"I putted pretty good the first seven holes," Funk said. "I missed a little one on 8 and 9, and it put me behind the eight-ball going down the back nine and then I made some great putts on the back nine. Just a scratch-and-claw round.
"I'm real pleased. I thought (the cut) would be 2. ... I made a really clutch putt on 13, well, sheesh, on 11, 13 and 15 for par and then a long one on 16 and a nice two putt on 18. So it was good." -- Helen Ross