Fred Funk's chip-in seals made cut at Bermuda Championship
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Fred Funk joins Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead and Tom Watson as only players to make a PGA TOUR cut at age 64 or older since 1970
Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
Fred Funk chips in for birdie at Bermuda
SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda – Fred Funk earned his first PGA TOUR card at age 32, after seven years as the University of Maryland golf coach and time as a newspaper circulation supervisor.
That was in 1989.
This week, Funk played the first two rounds of the Bermuda Championship with his son Taylor, who turned 25 on Friday.
And Funk, 64, delivered a moment that will endure in the family archive.
Arriving at his final hole Friday at even par at Port Royal GC, he needed to make birdie to cement a place inside the cut line, and become one of just four players to make a TOUR cut at age 64 or older since 1970.
The other three: Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.
From the left fringe, 20 feet away, Funk chipped in for birdie. Taylor made an immediate beeline toward his dad, and the two shared a celebration not unlike that between an NFL quarterback and wide receiver after a touchdown.
With a two-day total of 1-under 141, Funk assured a spot on the weekend in his 650th TOUR start. It marks his 452nd cut made – and first with Taylor cheering from inside the ropes.
“He almost killed me,” laughed Funk of the post-birdie celebration on the par-4 ninth green at Port Royal. “He horse-collared me, and I wasn’t ready for it.”
“I went the other way, and I was like, ‘I didn’t hurt you, did I?’” replied Taylor. “He’s very fragile nowadays. No, it was a cool moment to hug him after that. Looked like he was about to cry, making the cut again. It was cool.
“This guy is pretty damn good for an old guy. (To make the cut), not many 64-year-olds can do that in the world. It was fun to be out there and compete in a PGA TOUR event, and to do it next to my dad was awesome.”
Earlier in the week, Funk said that he planned to be Taylor’s cheerleader over two days at Port Royal. This week marked Taylor’s second TOUR start – the University of Texas alum plays various mini-tours and Monday qualifiers in chase of his TOUR dreams – and Funk knew the potential magnitude of the week as Taylor aims to climb the professional golf ladder.
As the second round wound down, though, the tables turned.
“On the sixth hole, our 15th, I was like, ‘I’m your cheerleader now,’” said Taylor. “I’m 6 over, I was rooting him on and tried to keep him upbeat, and keep his mind off the body aches. It was a great time.”
“Yeah, it really was,” Funk added. “It was an incredibly hard day out there, a lot of guessing. Tough to even putt with this kind of wind … you get behind the eight-ball, and it’s hard to come back from.
“I was in good position, then I made a double bogey on No. 5, and all of a sudden I’m not in good position, and tough holes coming in. Somehow I made a birdie on 7, and then I made a great up-and-down on 8, and then a chip-in on 9. It was really sweet.”
Taylor and his sister Perri were home-schooled on the road by their mom Sharon, allowing the family to travel together “95 percent of the time” as the kids grew up.
This arrangement also allowed the father-son duo to play countless rounds.
“Instead of me hitting balls, we would go to another golf course and play, and we’d probably do that two to three times per week if I made the cut, and if I didn’t make the cut, we were playing on the weekend somewhere else,” Funk recalled. "We learned to play really fast because Taylor would get there, we’d have two-and-a-half or three hours ‘til dark. He’d say, ‘C’mon Dad, we’ve got to get 18, can we get 18?’
“I said, ‘I don’t think.’
“He said, ‘No, we’re going to get 18.’
“So many times, we got 18 holes in when it looked like we had no chance.”
This week, the Funks played 36 holes of PGA TOUR competition.
And Dad joined three Hall of Famers as the oldest to finish in the money.
“Say that again?” asked Funk when informed of the longevity statistic. “Watson, Nicklaus and Snead? That’s really good.
“And then Funk. You throw that in there, it doesn’t sound right, does it?”
It sounds exactly right.
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for PGATOUR.COM. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.