In the hours after the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, Fred
Funk made his way to the media room for an interview session. As
he sat waiting, the 47-year-old smiled, tapped his feet and sang
Play that Funky Music out loud. Someone asked how many songs Funk
knew with the word funky in them. "Not many," he deadpanned.
"Only the ones that have been written."
Clearly, Funk was in high spirits. Less clear was exactly why.
Funk had not won the tournament; that honor went to Carlos
Franco, the loose-swinging Paraguayan Minister of Sports who is
as disdainful of practice as Vijay Singh is obsessed with it.
Franco wrapped up his fourth Tour victory and first in four years
by shooting four rounds in the 60s, including a second-round 63,
for a 13-under 267 total.
None of that mattered to Funk, though, because Ryder Cup season
is upon us. Funk had started the day with a tenuous hold on the
ninth of 10 guaranteed spots for the U.S. team, but by shooting a
final-round 66, he had risen into a tie for second in the
tournament, which meant that he picked up 85 Ryder Cup points and
jumped ahead of Steve Flesch to eighth on the list.
"After the experience of playing on the Presidents Cup team last
year, my only goal this year was to make the Ryder Cup team,"
Funk said. "For me, it was more important to play in the Ryder
Cup than the British Open."
August 1, 2004
Things went less well for Ryder Cup hopefuls Jerry Kelly and
Scott Verplank, who came into Milwaukee holding the 11th and 12th
spots, respectively, in the standings. Only top 10 finishers get
points, and any such result would have moved either player ahead
of Jeff Maggert, who holds the last spot.
Kelly started the final round in 17th place but went on an early
birdie run to get to nine under by the ninth hole. If he had
simply parred out, he would have finished in a tie for seventh
and moved up the list. Instead, the Wisconsin native bogeyed 15,
16 and 17 and fell to 13th place. Earlier Kelly had said he
wouldn't play again until the PGA Championship, the last
tournament in which to earn points, but after his poor finish he
announced that he would play this week's Buick Open in Grand
Blanc, Mich. "I'm not going to give it too much thought," Kelly
summed up. "My focus now turns directly to Michigan."
Verplank, on the other hand, began Sunday tied for fifth and
slowly fell out of the top 10. However, he came to 18 needing a
birdie to tie for 10th and grab a few valuable points. He reached
the green in three but missed a long birdie putt and settled for
11th. "I finished 11th two out of the last three tournaments," a
discouraged Verplank said. "Finishing 11th doesn't do me any
Most weeks the Tour produces one winner and about 151 losers, but
last week there were two winners, two losers and a bunch of guys
in short-sleeve shirts. Ryder Cup season is upon us, and
everything is, well, a bit funky.
Michelle Wie would've been better served competing in--and
winning--last week's U.S. Girls' Junior than dragging herself to
France to finish 33rd in an LPGA event.
Up & Down
The little-known Delaware club pro came out of nowhere to win the
Senior British Open.
Carlos Franco won in Milwaukee, and Julietta Granada, 17, took
the U.S. Girls' Junior.
The 50-year-old Argentinean made his senior debut with a tie for
second in a major.
The LPGA's resident superstar got caught from behind by
little-known winner Wendy Doolan.
The Badgers--Jerry Kelly, Skip Kendall, Steve Stricker, et
al.--can't get it done in Dairyland.
Mr. Close Call continued his not-quite-winning ways on the
Champions tour with a T2 finish.