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June 21, 2006

Fred Funk


NELSON SILVERIO: Fred, welcome. Just driving up, you could feel the love all the fans give you. Give us some general thoughts on coming back to sort of an adopted home.

FRED FUNK: Adopted home? This is my real home. No, it's always good to come back here, be the local guy. One tournament I always wanted to play in when I couldn't get in it, when I was a club pro. Now it's always one of the tournaments I always wanted to win. I had a chance a few years ago, the year Stuart Appelby won. Was leading going into Sunday, messed that up. I'd love to finish it out.

Seems like my history of tournaments I've won, they've either gotten rid of the tournament or they moved the date, so I should just win this one by default (laughter).


Q. Along those lines, you were on the board of directors of this event, as I recall. What was your reaction when they decided to move it? Now being threatened to not happen at all. Can you do anything about that?

FRED FUNK: No, I can't do anything about it. I had no input at all. They just kind of wanted me as a player liaison, I guess, between the TOUR and the players, maybe help recruit some guys. You can't do that. The guys are going to play where they want to play.

With that being said, I'm really upset that things unfolded the way they did because I just feel like DC is a market we should be playing in at any cost, nearly any cost, that we should be playing in this market.

I think it's always been well supported by the town. Booz Allen committed to put the money up if they got the date they wanted to get, that they felt they deserved to have, which was the week before the Open. They couldn't get that. Obviously, it's difficult to promise a week. It's been done.

I just don't understand all the undercurrents that went on. I played with Ralph Shrader today. He spoke to me a little bit about it. There's a lot of decisions that had to be made. Obviously, there's only so many weeks. It becomes a tough issue for both sides.

But with all that, it's still very upsetting that we don't have a tournament at this point in DC for the regular TOUR. To me there's no excuse. This is one market we should be in for sure.

Q. Did you talk to Tim about it?

FRED FUNK: I talked to Tim a little bit. He doesn't give you that much detail because I guess he really can't. I don't know that much about it. I know a little bit of the TOUR side. I know a little bit now of what Ralph and Booz Allen was going through.

We had this huge commitment. They were a brand company that wanted to brand themselves. I thought it would have been a good fit. It didn't work out that way. It is upsetting. I think a lot of the players, if you polled them, would be very upset we're not playing here. Whether it's here or Congressional. Obviously, Congressional is a great venue. This venue has gotten better and better and better.

The plans that they had to redo the golf course I was involved in a little bit. I've seen the plans. They're remarkable. Obviously, you're stuck with the routing of the golf course. The changes, if they were done properly, would be one of the best TPCs we have, if not the best, if they went and followed through with it.

I don't know where that stands either. I don't know where the redesign is going to be addressed, what the future holds.

Q. (No microphone.)

FRED FUNK: Like American League, National League.

Q. No, more like PGA TOUR of 25 events, then a Nationwide Tour of 35 events, with certain events now on this TOUR following to the other tour.

FRED FUNK: No, I don't see that happening at all. I think the PGA TOUR will always that's the show, the big show. Obviously, what we're trying to do with the FedEx Cup, obviously we can't compete with football in the fall. The schedule tails off where the interest and excitement of golf kind of drops off after the PGA Championship. When you get to THE TOUR Championship, we're an afterthought. We are trying to negate that factor, create excitement at the end of the season, condense the schedule a little bit where you're going to get stronger fields more often. I'm saying all this in theory, hopefully where you create excitement at the end where you have this playoff system, you have at big whammy at the end, then you have the chase for the card after that with your fall series.

No, I don't see the Nationwide the Nationwide will always be the Nationwide, and I think the PGA TOUR will always be the PGA TOUR. It's just a different animal now. It's becoming a little different animal.

I think they have to address in the future the exempt status of the TOUR with the condensing of the schedule. Guys coming out of Q School and Nationwide are going to have less access because the schedule is being condensed, the fields are going to be stronger. I think they're going to need to address that.

Hopefully the FedEx Cup, more than likely it will be a great success because I think it will generate the stronger fields. It will do what they intended it to do. Hopefully the points system will be the right points system that will identify the player they want to identify, which is the guy that should be the player of the year. Hopefully that points system will work in that regard.

Q. If this tournament does move to the fall, what specifically do you think the effects will be for this tournament?

FRED FUNK: Well, it's gone. There's no dates in the FedEx Cup schedule, unless they go to the fall. That's unfortunate. I think DC this time of year is great. Although DC in the fall is great. It's a great time. I just wish it was part of the main deal. I think it deserves that. We're a very big market here. It's our nation's capital. We should be in our nation's capital. I don't think you have to say anything more than that.

Q. The commissioner is getting ready to make an announcement about the FedEx Cup and points today. Do you think the timing of that is a little odd considering his relationship with this event of late?

FRED FUNK: Well, obviously he's got to promote and move on. What has happened has happened and we have to move forward. I guess you can't just be stuck on all the negatives of what had happened with this tournament. I guess he's just moving forward.

You have a lot of negative journalism this year about this tournament, who is not in the field. I get tired of hearing that. We go to different venues around the country that aren't blessed with Phil, Vijay, Tiger. There's a great group of players here. Whether they're household names or not is not a fact that we I don't consider any field on the TOUR a weak field. A winning score is going to be pretty much the same whether it's Tiger, Vijay, Ernie, Phil or they're not here. Great golf, great golfers.

I just got to get my little plug in. I've been reading nothing but negative stuff out of every newspaper here. I just don't understand why the local writers, and most of those local writers are guys that are not the Len Shapiros that come out to this venue and they're here at the site. They're in their rooms, wherever they write their stories, they just want to blast their local tournament. I just don't get it. That pisses me off. I hate reading about who is not in the field every week.

But it's a roundabout way of saying, I think we have to move forward. That's what Tim is addressing. There is a lot of uncertainty where we're going with the FedEx. When they negotiated all the deals, there was a lot of (indiscernible) what the concepts were, how the points were going to be worked. Has the points system been released to you guys? Next week? I've seen it a little bit, was explained a little bit. They had to go to how many different models of points, how it was going to work, how one tournament affects another tournament.

They're trying to just make sure they got the right system, and hopefully they do. Next year will be a telling year.

Q. Given how much pressure you've put on yourself before to win this event, given where you are in your career, where this event is, are you putting more pressure on yourself this week?

FRED FUNK: No, not at all. There's still days where I don't handle the pressure I put on myself as well as others, or weeks. I just try to go out there and just play my best. When my game is good, I know it's really good. When it's not, I try to get through with it, try to figure out what I'm doing. We all do that.

Hopefully I'm on a peak and I got everything hitting. If I do, I expect to be in the hunt on Sunday. I really do like the golf course. It's in unbelievable condition. The greens are fabulous. Scores should be really low this week. Low scoring conditions because the putting surfaces are so good. So much better than Winged Foot. Winged Foot was awful.

Q. As competitive as the fields are here every year, as you were saying, even without the big names, it is true if a few of those bigger names could have made it here every year, perhaps this tournament could have stayed where it was. Why do you suppose this tournament never did draw regularly Vijay and Phil?

FRED FUNK: A lot of it's timing. If you look at the schedule that precedes it, comes after the U.S. Open, you have Dallas has always been a strong draw. Charlotte has become a big draw. You have Dallas, Colonial, Muirfield. Memphis gets stuck in there. They kind of get the weak field because they're stuck in the middle. Then we go up to Westchester, we come here. We're bounced back and forth between Westchester in the past. Westchester tends to be pretty popular.

Then you have your U.S. Open, wherever the old Kemper and the Booz Allen fell, that was the week a lot of big stars took their weeks off, which is understandable. You can't play every single week. It would be probably less of an effect if you played, I hate to say this because it is a negative side, but Congressional is a slam dunk. No matter what tournament, what sponsor, what date, Congressional would always be one of the best golf courses we play, truly one of the best courses I've ever played in my life. I think it's the top five I ever played. Probably most of the guys, when they play Congressional Blue, it's the best venue, one of the best we have on our schedule.

But this golf course has gotten better over the years. No other golf course in the area would ever be a Congressional. But Congressional is set up for a major venue. The members don't want it year in, year out. It's a little bit of a negative. I thought it was a little bit of a negative last year, it was a great field, a lot better field, but it was Congressional, that was the big draw.

I think with the new plans that they followed through with the plans I saw and did them to a level that would really make this not only the playing area really pretty but the non playing areas really pretty, like dressing up the creek that runs down the Back 9, all the areas that are not in play that really look manicured, do the rerouting of the holes or changing of the holes, this would be truly one of the best TPCs on TOUR if they follow through with that. That would negate the Congressional factor because I think more and more guys would say, Hey, you know, this is a really good golf course.

If you had a chance to see the plans, they did a hell of a job. It would be an exciting every hole would be a really good golf hole.

Q. Two years ago when you left here, everybody's understanding was when we were here now, we'd have basically a new golf course and a brand new clubhouse, everything would have been done to bring the players in, because that was the understanding, that the course had to change. Do you have any understanding why now they didn't do what they promised they would do?

FRED FUNK: From what I understand, there was a permitting problem. Growing up in this area, knowing the problems you got to deal with with the Chesapeake Bay, all the runoff, the environmental issues that you have here, their permitting became a big issue. They had a long time to get the permits. A lot of the routing, a lot of the work, had to do with how they were going to deal with this creek, to lessen the flooding problem they have when they have the heavy rains. That bottom area is truly a floodplain.

They had a lot of issues with how they were going to deal with that, what they could and couldn't do. From what I understand, they have the permits now to go forward. They were also hoping, the chicken and the egg thing: Was Booz Allen going to pony up before the changes or were they going to pony up after the changes? Who was going to entice who to do what?

That part, I don't know how it really unfolded. I do understand there was a lot of environmental issues, permitting issues. I think there were also issues with sponsorship issues, with where they were going to channel their money, when they were going to channel their money. Then, as well, and I don't know this for a fact, I'm speaking probably going to get blasted when we're spending however much money we're spending down at TPC Sawgrass, doing a huge renovation there, do we have the funds to do a huge renovation here as well?

It's also I think our most successful TPC revenue wise in the whole system, from what I've been told. That's hard to close it down. When you have that one closed down, this one could be closed down as well, you're cutting your funds out a little bit.

But I'm speaking out of turn there because I'm not on the board, I'm not on the policy committee. I'm just a player that hears a lot of rumors. I have my opinion. I hear a lot of things. I have some things validated when I hear them because I try not to say things that I don't feel are validated. These are things I've heard. I'm sure they were part of the issue. I'm sure there's a lot of truth in it. Whether they're totally accurate, I have no idea.

Q. Could you talk about turning 50 last week, your plans to play on the Champions Tour, whether you've joined AARP yet.

FRED FUNK: I thought that I was 55. You can at 50. I want my discount for the movies and stuff.

I'm going to play the Senior Open, Prairie Dunes, the Senior Players. I was originally going to skip next week and take a week off, play nine in a row, but didn't. I feel like I'm playing pretty good. I really like Hartford. I haven't committed yet, but I'm probably going to go to Hartford and play, just play my way through. I really want to make Tom's team, as well.

This is my last really big run at making one of the Cup teams. I want to try to do that.

Q. (No microphone.)

FRED FUNK: I think I'm going to cherry pick a little bit. I'm going to play the ones I really like playing on this TOUR. This would be Waialae, hopefully Kapalua, Riviera, Westchester, Hilton Head. Absolutely here, if it was here. I'll always play here, hometown, no matter where it is. Cherry pick those, go on the SENIOR TOUR, Champions Tour, and figure out how I like it, how I'm playing. I've got to see how I'm playing, too.

Hopefully I can go out there and be playing really well and have the early success. I feel a little bit like I'm being like the second coming of the Champions Tour. I think that's really high expectations. I've had a good career out here, very competitive out here. To have like I'm going to win everything I tee it up in out there is a joke to me. Puts a little more pressure on me that I don't want. I just want to go out and be playing well at the Champions Tour level and to have fun.

I talked to Loren and Jay, they have now made a commitment mentally to go out there and really enjoy it. They really are enjoying it. They said they love it out there. We'll see.


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