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May 20, 2009

Fred Funk


KELLY ELBIN: Fred Funk, ladies and gentlemen, joining us at the 70th Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club. This is Fred's first Senior PGA Championship. Eight time PGA TOUR winner. Fred, welcome to Canterbury, welcome to your first event at the Senior PGA Championship. You played yesterday in the pro-am.
FRED FUNK: No, I wasn't in the pro-am. I was second alternate. I was here ready to go, but I didn't get in.
KELLY ELBIN: Have you had a chance to play any of the golf course?
FRED FUNK: Played nine afterwards, I played the back nine. Very impressed. Really good golf course. Tough finish. 16, 17, 18 are tough.
So it will be a lot of -- it could be a turn of events there over those last three holes. Or if you're not hitting it straight.
KELLY ELBIN: How is your health overall coming in?
FRED FUNK: Fair. I've had the knee issues there, everybody's been writing about those or hearing about those, and yesterday was not a good day with the knee. But we'll see. Every day's a little different. But it's getting a little better and the swing's coming around. So I'm starting to play at a better quality than I have been. So it is gradually getting better and better. So I'm where I'm looking forward to playing, instead of dreading playing. So that's a big difference.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions, please.

Q. What changes do you have to make with your knee off the course in terms of taking care of everything; and then on the course have you had to make any modifications to your swing?
FRED FUNK: I've been wearing a brace on my knee. One of the big braces. And it really helps me walk more than it does support my knee for the swing.
Off the golf course I spend a lot of time just icing it after I'm done. And I got this electric stim machine that I use on it to try to get the muscles to fire. Because anything I do resistance with weights just irritates my knee a lot.
So I'm trying to baby it a lot, other than having to walk on it and swinging on it. The only time walking really bothers me, it hurts a little bit in a normal step, but walking down hills is real tough. So that's my big challenge.
And then yesterday it hurt during the golf swing. And last week and the week before it didn't really bother my golf swing too much. So it was just one of those days that I was pretty tired, I think. And I hit a lot of balls before I went out too. And I was practicing. So it's just something I got to deal with and I'm going to try to get through the season and then re-evaluate at the end of the year on my next step so to speak.

Q. For those of us not familiar, what, how did you get this knee injury?
FRED FUNK: It was a year ago last week actually it was the week after the PLAYERS Championship last year. I knew I had torn cartilage in my knee and I was trying to make it through the whole season and my doctor, this is back in November when I knew about it, and I was trying to make it through and he said there's no way you're going to make it.
And I kind of tweaked it in a bunker at the 13th hole during the PLAYERS Championship last year, had it operated on the Wednesday after, and it left me bone on bone on the lateral side of my knee.
And I had it drained 18 times between then and the Shark Shoot-out and the 16th needle put the infection in there. I was playing Russian roulette with those needles. But I kept getting so much fluid build-up and I kept trying to play and I was chasing that Schwab Cup and trying to run down Jay. And I actually caught him, but I didn't play well there at the very end of the year. And I gave it to him, didn't give it to him, he earned it.
But it was just stubbornness on my part in trying to -- and I'm going through the same pattern again, I'm just stubborn and pretty stupid, I guess, trying to go through this. But I really don't have a much of a choice.
The good news right now is that my knee's not getting any fluid on it or little fluid on it. When it gets fluid on it -- I have to ice it at night and it goes back down. And last year it wouldn't go back down and I had to get it drained. If I ever get to the same scenario where have I to get it drained, I'm done. I'm just going home and figure out what I got to do.

Q. A year ago you had the game to play on both tours until recently, until the knee. What are your expectations going into this week with the knee and the fact that you haven't been able to play and practice like you wanted to?
FRED FUNK: In this event or?

Q. This event.
FRED FUNK: Just this event? Well this is a good golf course for me from what I've seen so far. If I can play my normal game then I think I can win it. So I have high expectations still of myself and I had some high goals. I'm committed now to the Champions Tour all the rest of this year, other than a couple events that I'll play on the Regular Tour. But Bernhard has a huge lead, but last year I played three of the five Majors we had out there and finished first, second, second, which got me all the points that allowed me to narrow that gap the with Jay Haas and Bernhard when I finally started playing out here last year.
And that's what have I to do this year. I'm going to have to do the same thing, when I play these Majors, I got do really well in them. Those guys I'm sure are going to play well, as well, but I just got to play as good as I can in these double points to try to catch them. And that's my goal. I would just like to make a run at it, even though I'm not where I want to be physically, that's for sure, but I'm going to try my best.
Who knows, if I can even make it through the whole year, I'm playing, I think, 20, counting the PLAYERS Championship, starting that week was 20 out of 25 weeks to finish the year, which is awfully aggressive. But I'm going to try to do it.

Q. Why?
FRED FUNK: I just told you why.

Q. Well kind of.

Q. But you also said, I mean last year and then this year and going through all that, isn't there a point where you just kind of say maybe I should just kind of shut it down for awhile?
FRED FUNK: No. No. My knee will tell me when to shut it down. Well it was telling me last year and I didn't listen. But if I get the fluid on it again, or it gets too painful, then I'll shut it down. But I can't do any more damage to my knee other than getting another staph infection would do more damage to the knee and to me. So that's where I got to be careful. We're not going to put another needle in my knee. We agreed to that. A doctor absolutely told me nobody putts a needle in your knee again. And we'll just see how it goes.

Q. What was scarier, the surgery or the infection?
FRED FUNK: The infection was lots scarier. I didn't even know much about staph until I got it. I heard about it. But had no idea how, oh, geez, how sick it can make you feel and the worst case scenarios are not very good scenarios. So my doctor was very concerned, all the doctors were very concerned and the good news is I didn't have MRSA, I didn't have MRSA, which is the worst kind, I had like the second worst kind, I had MSA, whatever that is, but it just was really painful. I had no idea how painful it was and I didn't know how -- it just drained you.
And I was weak. When the infection was finally gone, and I got the IV tubes out and everything, then I had to get the strength back. And it took a long time to get just my overall body strength back. I'm starting to get that almost back to where I was. I just can't get the strength in my knee back where I need it to be. That's the problem because it's just, it's eating on itself, basically, it's just sitting there pounding bone on bone and I can't do any of the -- well we tried all the other stuff, the oil and all that stuff last year with the -- it's an oil from a, the fluid that comes out of a rooster's cone and they get that stuff and it's real viscous and oily and that's supposedly gives you a little lubrication there. And that didn't work.
So everything we tried hadn't really worked, short of knee replacement. And hopefully, eventually I'm going to need one, just hopefully it will get good enough where I won't need one at the end of the year. And that's kind of what the next step is, really. But the frustrating part is just the strength in the knee is so arthritic and weak that -- when you stand over a ball when you're playing good you're not really thinking of what you're doing over the ball or you're not thinking of mechanic, you're always, I always say you're trying to react to your target. And just try to produce the shot that you're required to hit on that particular shot.
And right now I standing over the ball and I know my knee hurts and I know it's going to hurt during the golf swing and sometimes I just hit some shots that just are not even close to what I normally hit. And that's frustrating.
So I'm not playing at that level that I need to, because there's just, two or three shots I'm hitting a lot different than I normally do. My misses are worse. It's a game of misses. So usually my misses are pretty, my dispersion pattern is pretty tight. But it's not quite as tight right now as it normally is.
KELLY ELBIN: Are you concerned at all about having to walk four rounds on a hilly golf course like this with the knee being what it is?
FRED FUNK: It is a little hilly and, yeah, I am a little concerned. But I'm going to try to find all the flattest routes possible. I got to avoid the downhills, the uphills are not as bad as the downhill. So I got to figure out how to avoid all these trips down the steep hills. And bunker shots are just brutal. I got to stay out of bunkers. The sand, I just can't get any stability in the sand.
What I was surprised, I will say, when I saw the history of the Senior PGA, I had no idea it was this old. I just I would have pictured maybe the 1960's something they would have started the senior PGA. Not 1937.
KELLY ELBIN: 1937 at Augusta National.
FRED FUNK: Where was it?
KELLY ELBIN: Augusta National.
FRED FUNK: Oh really? I didn't know that either. So it's got a tremendous history to it. And I had no idea. I just didn't think they would have thought of a need for a senior PGA way back then. I don't know why I thought that, but, boy, I was thinking of golf history and I wouldn't have thought the old guys would have thought of such a thing that long ago.
KELLY ELBIN: A little bit of foresight.

Q. Given the economic climate how important is it for players to take the initiative with fans, corporate, all that have? In terms of relations?
FRED FUNK: Well I think it's very important. We're basically entertainers at the same time they come out to see us play golf, but they like to be entertained. And the one thing that I consciously or unconsciously do when I'm playing well it's a lot easier to do, but to acknowledge the crowd when they acknowledge you. And give them back the credit when they give you applause or whatever and for doing something good, wave back to them and say thanks. And even interact with them a little bit. And they really appreciate that.
I know that the one year I did that the Hazeltine at the PGA there I got adopted by the crowd that year like Jason Gore did at Pinehurst, at the U.S. Open. And that's a great feeling.
And I played really good, I rode that wave of emotion all four days and played really well there. And I had a shot at winning. And the same thing kind of happened at, a little bit, not nearly to the extent, but at Shinnecock when I was playing really well and got in the second to last group with Phil and that was some great emotions. They were obviously rooting for Phil a lot there, but it's fun when you get the crowd behind you.
But I think it's really important for the fans that do bother to come out in this economic climate to feel like they have been entertained and that they have felt it was really worth it and they can go back and say, man, you got to come and experience what we experienced today. I think that would be very important. And obviously there's a need for our sport, or any sport at this moment, anyway.

Q. How good is Fuzzy?
FRED FUNK: That's up to you media guys too, you know. You got to build up the Tournaments and they read and take to heart a lot of what you guys write. And I think it's important on what they read and they say, we got to go check this out.

Q. How good is Fuzzy in that regard?
FRED FUNK: He's great. I just played with him last week two rounds and he's always talking to himself. Basically. I mean he always if people are listening, they can hear him talking. And it's pretty funny. And he's just a great personality out there. He's a great ambassador to the game and he's one of the guys that has that great personality out there that everybody loves to see.
And there's only been a handful of guys like that with Lee Trevino doing it and Chi Chi and a couple others you can say. You can't really say Jack was like that. I don't know whether Arnie was so much like that, but he was just so charismatic that everybody loved to watch Arnie it wasn't so much that he interacted with the crowd I don't think it was just he was just fun to watch with his game and just the charisma that he had.
So you only have a few guys that really have that gregarious personality out there to really go out there and let their personalities out. Now Stadler does it in a different way.
(Laughter.) But he let's his personality out in a different way.
(Laughter.) Peter, how could I forget about him. Peter's definitely born to be an entertainer in front of the camera, behind the camera, whatever. He's something else.
KELLY ELBIN: Fred Funk, thank you very much.
FRED FUNK: All right. Thanks, guys.

End of FastScripts

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