home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


January 3, 2006

Fred Funk


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Fred Funk for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Mercedes Championship.

It's been a wonderful year for you. It's been a career year. Why don't you just talk about 2005, how excited you are going into 2006 after last year.

FRED FUNK: 2005, obviously looking back was a great year. Actually, now that I see Rosy, there was a second, third, fourth incentive in there when he told me I wasn't going to finish top 30 in a preview. I had a little drama there.

Seriously, my real goal was to make The Presidents Cup team because I experienced it for the first time at the South Africa Presidents Cup team and then the Ryder Cup, being part of the national team, being on that stage, just being part of a team with a captain, being rooted for, rooting for your teammates. We just don't have that same environment week in and week out, we never do, other than those events. They were so much fun that it became a huge focus of mine to make The Presidents Cup team.

I wanted to make that in my initial goal that I've had the last five or six years, finish top 30 on the Money List, try to compete to win a tournament. If I do, great. If I don't, at least get in the hunt a few times.

With that being said, winning THE PLAYERS Championship, if I did nothing else the rest of the year, that would have been a great year. Then making The Presidents Cup team, mainly because I won the PLAYERS, then being part of that winning team, being there with Jack was really special.

I have to throw the funny season in with the experience I had and the exposure I had at the Skins Game, the way that all unfolded. It was a great year overall looking back. Hopefully I can continue to be competitive this year. The goal this year is to make Ryder Cup team. I want to make one more run before I turn 50. Hopefully I can be a part of Tom Lehman's team. That's my total focus this year, just to get top tens, try to just get points, get myself in the hunt to make that team.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Are you healthy?

FRED FUNK: No. Since last July working out, I did something in my rib cage right here below my collarbone. That's been seven months now. It's still bothering me. Still working on that. It really affects my golf swing. Some days are good, some days are bad.

Looking back last year on the negative side that was really frustrating because I couldn't practice at all. I dreaded every golf swing I took from July on. Knowing you're going to take a swing and it's going to hurt, it's just not fun. I haven't been able to figure out how to get through it. I just try to play through it right now. Hopefully it will go away.


Q. How do you explain playing the best golf of your life at 49, when you're hurt, on golf courses that keep getting longer and longer?

FRED FUNK: You know, if you look at me statistically last year, it wasn't my best year. A few years before, I think 2002, statistically I was a lot better. I was the best I've ever been in putting. I think I was 13th in putting. I was fourth in greens in regulation. I've never been long, so I'm always back on that part there. Won the driving accuracy. Statistically last year, and my finishes in top tens, I didn't have as many.

But I won the PLAYERS, I got on The Presidents Cup team. Everything kind of got skewed last year a little bit because it was such a big purse and I won such a big tournament. In the whole, I just didn't play the summer and the fall the way I normally can, so that was frustrating.

To answer your question there, the other part of the question, how you compete on longer golf courses, it gets more difficult. I can't compete on certain golf courses that are just bomber friendly. They go out, just hit it as far as they can. They don't get penalized. There are courses, more and more unfortunately, that we play that way.

This golf course here this week, I consider it a long hitters' golf course. Although I feel I can play well on it, and I have played well on it, I think it really favors the long hitters. Next week at Waialae, that's a position golf course. We have a few like Hilton Head Westchester, Waialae, TPC at Sawgrass. I have to take advantage of those that I can play well on and I feel I can compete because it's more of a position golf course instead of going out there and just hitting it a mile.

There's no substitute for length, though. The other thing is really 68 and 69 is still a good number. It's not like you got to go out there and shoot 63 every round. You go out there, I can play, no matter how long the golf course is, if I'm playing well, I can shoot 68, 69, and I can really get it going a little lower than that sometimes, but I can't overpower a golf course.

What they've done to Augusta, I think in the past, it's already gotten too long for me. They've added some more for this year. That's really frustrating when they just keep going length, length, length.

Q. If you're not playing the best golf of your career, certainly this is the highest profile you've had in your career.

FRED FUNK: Well, yeah.

Q. It seems like you're really enjoying this moment.

FRED FUNK: Yeah, absolutely. Again, if I just had won the PLAYERS, that alone would have been a great year for me. To add The Presidents Cup team and then the Skins, I got into Tiger's event at the end of year because John pulled out, but I was high enough up to get in that, that was a real treat.

TOUR Championship, I finished highest on the Money List I've ever done. Yeah, there was some pretty lofty goals that I achieved and then exceeded, I think, with the PLAYERS.

Q. Where is the skirt? Did you auction it?

FRED FUNK: My wife bought it the day before, two days before. There was two different ones, that one, the real wild one that was way too big, then this other one that was a little skimpier. I modeled that for Tiger the night before. I said, "Which one?" He said, "I like the bright one." We did the bright one.

If I got out driven, it was a thing that was staged. I knew I was going to put it on if Annika got me. I was hoping that Annika wasn't going to get me, wasn't going to come out. Sure enough, she has it in her bag, 3rd hole it comes out. I didn't know what I was going to do. I knew I was going to put it on. I really wasn't planning on wearing it for the whole hole. I decided, "I got this thing on, I'm going to wear it for the whole hole."

It turned out it was just a pretty neat moment in Skins history at least. It gave Tiger the line, line of all lines for TV. It was good.

We actually had to ask TV whether we could say that, too. If it came out, it's a normal thing, we always say to your caddie, "Is it a ball or two, three balls out." He just fed it perfect. It was just perfect.

The plan for the skirt is to get 185,000 of that money I won went to JT Townsend, the boy that is paralyzed at home. We're doing everything we can for that family. I want to find a stupid money ProAm or auction deal where people just pay ridiculous amounts of money for a lot of stupid things, try to get a decent amount of money to go to JT. That's the plan.

Q. Will you play in the Bob Hope this year?


Q. The new course they've lengthened out to about 7600 yards.

FRED FUNK: The new one, yeah. I played it during the Skins. I went over, it wasn't even open yet, went over and played it. That will be a fine golf course if the wind doesn't blow. It's out there where the wind could really howl. It's tough. $2 million a hole they spent on that thing.

Q. Your anxiety to play in Ryder Cup this year again might be seen as odd, in light of the comments that were made, not my by you, but in The Presidents Cup about gamesmanship, even hatred towards the Europeans. Seems odd to us on our side of the pond.

FRED FUNK: I don't know. We were the ones chastised by Paul Casey the other way, on the hatred of the Americans. I don't think that's a fair comment. We don't have a hatred. I don't think there's any hatred. Our tour now is a world tour. We play against the guys that play in The Ryder Cup, week in and week out. We play against the guys in The Presidents Cup week in and week out. We're all friends. We're all peers.

Why the media wants to generate any of this hatred, that's the problem with The Ryder Cup versus The Presidents Cup, I think, is that the media generates so much animosity between the teams, they want to make a story out of a lot of things.

One thing that really frustrates me with what the media writes is how we're not a team at The Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, and we were so much a team. We wanted to win that thing so bad, so much that we tightened up. But we were a team. We were united. We wanted to play.

We didn't play as well. We didn't make the crucial putts when we needed to. Maybe some of the pairings were questionable. But that being said, that was done. But we were still a team that wanted to win. We had great meetings. A lot of camaraderie between the team in and out of the locker room, on the golf course, off the golf course. You write about how Tiger and Phil don't get along. The first thing at The Presidents Cup, we walked in the team room, in the team house, there's a ping pong table, there wasn't five seconds went by, they both had ping pong paddles in their hands, they're going at it, Phil and Tiger. Having a ball. Sitting together at dinner.

You read all this stuff that's just not true. Where it gets generated, I don't know. The thing is, we have no rebuttal. It's written, everybody believes it. It's never a good story.

It creates a lot of tension, a lot of frustration with the American team. That's what I see. I've only experienced it at The Ryder Cup level once. There's a big difference from the congeniality of even the media between the two teams at The Presidents Cup versus Ryder Cup. Ryder Cup is just notched up to a level that's out of control.

Q. It's the press?

FRED FUNK: It is the press. The press has generated a lot of the negative feelings.

Q. When you talk about the press, are you talking about the American press?

FRED FUNK: Both, both. I think it's both sides. It's us against them. It's a competition. Maybe when you go back I would look back in history, the war at the shore at Stockton was the captain, that took it a little over the top. Then it became all of a sudden became, instead of a competition, it was a war. Well, it's not a war. It's a golf competition. That's all it should be.

The other thing is always painting the Europeans as the underdogs. That's not true. The Ryder Cup format alone makes the match tight, normally. I think the upset, if there is an upset of Oakland Hills, it was the fact that we got blown out as bad as we did, that the score was not close, not the fact that they won. It's just the fact that the point differential was so different.

But then what wasn't written, I think, I'd have to go back, but there was 11 matches went down to 18, and we won one point out of those 11 matches. It was actually tighter, if you split those. Now you're right there between one or two matches. We never could win the finishing holes.

The Presidents Cup last year, we won the 18th hole. 17 and 18 were friendly to us. It was the other way around, or we would have lost that.

I just think it's a lot of media driven stuff. We read about it. We get frustrated as a team reading about it. We were told both teams agreed at Oakland Hills, during practice rounds, we want to concentrate on playing golf. Don't sign autographs till you're done. Bernhardt and their team went out and signed every autograph they could. We're dead in the water. We get chastised for that. We're trying to do what both teams agreed to do, then they go out and do the other. Colin Montgomerie was like the ambassador of ambassadors, signing every autograph and holding kids, babies, everything else, taking pictures.

Q. He's like that.

FRED FUNK: Yeah, he's like that all the time. Colin is a great friend of mine now. I think I've really gotten close over the years with Colin. But man, that was a good little political move that they did on us on that one that backfired against us. We should have just said, "To heck with it. They're signing, we got to sign." We were just trying to concentrate on playing golf.

Q. You've always been a good company man for the tour, and you were critical of Phil when he skipped THE TOUR Championship. What are we seeing here with guys skipping an event like this and how do you feel about it?

FRED FUNK: Well, I have a tough one with that one because I just don't understand. I can understand Phil a little bit 'cause his reasoning is that you come over here, you're playing under really different conditions than we have all year, where you have to deal with the wind, you have to deal with the hill, the slope of this golf course, you got to deal with putting on these greens, which is a little more difficult a lot more difficult than putting at, say, than like the Bob Hope, where he's going to debut at. You feel like you get in some bad habits and he doesn't want to get in those bad habits.

He wants to work on his fundamentals, he wants to work on his game that's going to carry him through the rest of the year. I can understand that to a point. But it's such a it's a reward for having a good year last year. It's a reward for playing. Mercedes is putting up a lot of money. They want to see your marquee guys.

I definitely chastised Phil for not showing up at THE TOUR Championship. I thought that was a bad deal for Coca Cola, putting up all that money. I even said, if you had Phil and Tiger and Vijay didn't show up at the Coca Cola event, you know, it's just not right I didn't think.

Tiger's, his excuse is that he's played such a long off season, he didn't want to come over here. He feels he needs to be rested. Well, I don't know. I mean, I think I would like to see him here. I think they should be here. I can say Padraig, got to travel a long, long way.

I think in these small field events, if there was a way to make these guys come here, you know, under the way our bylaws are, the way we're independent contractors, you can't make a guy go anywhere. Might be an exception here. If you qualify for one of these, you got to be laying on your death bed before you can't come to one of these events.

It really hurts the field. You get enough guys not showing up, this is a year that a lot of guys aren't showing up, it would make a sponsor if I was a sponsor, it would make a sponsor say, "Why am I doing this? Why am I putting up all this money?" Hopefully they don't feel that way. Hopefully they'll feel the rewards still.

It's still a great field that's here, but the problem is this is one particular week where if you don't have your marquee guys that are eligible for the field not show up, it's even more magnified because it's such a small field. It's not as big a deal, because I'm saying the dead opposite of what I said in full field events, because you'll go to some of our events, the hometown journalists will just tear apart the field because X player is not there, or X amount of players that are marquee names aren't there, and they will rip their own tournament. I'm totally against that. But that's a full field event. There's a lot of great other stories that they can focus on, focus in on the positive.

You got to focus in on the positive here with what's happening, but you still it hurts the field when you have 32 or 33 guys, and four of them don't show up, and three or four of the four are really big names. That definitely hurts.

Q. Other than Ernie and Duval back in '99, these have been very tight tournaments. The golf course lends itself to that or the time off, new year?

FRED FUNK: I think I guess it's the golf course. Ernie ran off with 30 something under that one year, didn't he? I don't know what he won by. What did he win by?

Q. I think Rocco was eight back.

FRED FUNK: I'd say normally any TOUR event is normally close. It's very rare that any of them are runaways. The guys are pretty evenly locked. It's very seldom a guy gets on a roll with his putter to the point where he can really separate himself from the field like Tiger has done a few times and Ernie did here, and I guess Duval, like you said. I don't know what he shot.

Q. It's '06. You have a certain milestone birthday coming up. Where do you stand as far as formulating plans with the summer, where you're going to be?

FRED FUNK: Well, our US Open week is June 14th, when I turn 50. I'm going to debut at Prairie Dunes for the US Senior Open. That's the only one I'm committed to at this point. I'm going to see where I am with Tom Lehman's team. I don't expect to be unless I'm a really tight 11th, I don't expect to be picked. I feel like I got to make the team. I want to make that team. I don't want to rely on a captain's pick. I wouldn't expect to be a captain's pick. The club is a really, really long golf course.

Although I like the golf course, I feel like I can play it, I wouldn't with the talent that's out here, I wouldn't expect to be a pick at this stage, especially with my record in The Presidents Cup and Ryder Cups hasn't been that good, my match play record. My match play record is terrible, but I'm learning (laughter). Hopefully I can turn them into some wins.

I feel like I need to finish top 10.

Q. Before Jay went over to play mostly Champions Tour, he struggled mostly last year. Do you feel any different this year than you did last year? Something between 40 going on 50?

FRED FUNK: I wouldn't if I didn't have these little nagging injury things. I feel fine. I feel like I know I can still play the game. I feel like when I'm playing well, I can still compete with the best. You get me on the right venue, I feel like I can definitely win.

I think the thing that Jay went through, and I would probably think that I would go through a little bit, or anyone would go through, is that your expectations are so high to probably win, and everybody expects you to win when you make that jump over to the Champions Tour, if you're so competitive out here, you should be able to make that transition really easy.

It's never easy. I think that's just something where you go over there and you just got to try to play what your normal game is and not force it. Any time you force it, it just doesn't come to you. I think that's what Jay did. He had such high expectations. He was playing so well when he played on our tour, he goes over there, everybody says, "He should win this week." He thinks he should win. It took him a while. I think the way he finished, he's off and running. He's proven to himself that he can do it. All the other guys watch out, because Jay is tough. A lot of those guys are tough out there, but Jay is really tough.

Q. Sharon won't let you go over and play that tour?

FRED FUNK: What she is saying, I didn't tell the whole story, which a lot of times the media won't tell the whole story.

Q. Here is your opportunity.

FRED FUNK: Here is the whole story. Why make the jump too early or don't make the jump too early? As long as you're competitive out here, which is exactly what Nicklaus told me at The Presidents Cup. He said, "What are you going to do?" I said, "I don't know what I'm going to do." He said, "You'll know." I said, "How will I know?" He said, "You'll know when you're not competitive, whatever goals you set to be out here are not easily attained or you're not making them, you'll make your move over. There's no reason to jump over." That's basically what Sharon is saying. She's saying, "As long as you're competitive, don't let your focus be over there."

I'm a little bit torn because I feel like I could really help the Champions Tour if I go out there with a good attitude that I can have on the golf course. They market their fan friendly atmosphere and stuff like that. I enjoy interacting with the fans. I think that would be a fun thing for me to make that transition. When I feel like I'm beating my head against the wall out here at times, I think more of going out there.

Well, I just came off my best year, so it's hard. That's basically where Sharon is trying to convince me all the time when I get down on my game. "You're playing good. When you're playing good, you're playing as good as these guys out here. Stay out here and do it until you can't do it any more." That's good advice. That's what I should do.

I am torn a little bit. I can't say I don't think about going out to the Champions Tour, going out to three rounds, no cuts, just teeing it up and having fun, be competitive with those guys.

What I do see and would expect with the Champions Tour, if I can play my normal, consistent game, I will be in the hunt every week. That would be fun, to be in the hunt every week. I mean, I can't imagine. Tiger does it out here every week. He's either fifth or first, somewhere in the middle. It's an upset when he finishes out of the top three. I can't imagine being that good all the time. That would be kind of fun to experience that if I'm fortunate enough to be playing well out there to do that. I know I can't do that out here because my record proves that I can't do that out here. Week in and week out, I can play well, but to finish top tens out here are hard to do.

End of FastScripts.

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297