Former University of Maryland golfer Fred Funk became the fourth person to ever make a PGA Tour cut at the age of 64 or older at the Bermuda Championship Oct. 30. Funk secured his position inside the cut line with a chip-in for birdie on his last hole of the second round, which was a memorable moment for him and his son.
Funk was 1-under after 36 holes, better than the cut line of 1-over. Funk had a great time at the tournament but wanted to make it clear that his final chip wasn’t the only reason he made the cut. He had a little bit of a cushion to work with going into his final hole, but the chip-in was an incredible way to finish out the day.
“It was really fun that day, obviously, when I made that chip, although a lot of people played it off as if that was to make the cut,” Funk said on Glenn Clark Radio Nov. 12. “I knew I was making the cut as long as I didn’t make double on that last hole. The miraculous part they didn’t really talk about was, first of all, the conditions were brutal. It was 30- to 35-mph winds, and I made a birdie on seven, which was my 16th hole. Then I made a ridiculous up-and-down on eight, which was a hard par-3 for par. It gave me a cushion on nine to do whatever, and that hole was playing really hard. I had an easy chip, but to chip it in was really cool.”
The winds were gusting that day in Bermuda; the flag on the flagstick can be seen whipping back and forth in the highlight of Funk chipping in. But what made that day even better for Funk was that he was able to play alongside his son, Taylor Funk; the two were in the same group at Bermuda Oct. 29-30. (Taylor didn’t make the cut, but his father finished the tournament at 3-over.)
After Funk chipped in, Taylor came from behind and wrapped his arm around Funk’s neck in a moment of celebration. Funk laughed when recalling the moment, saying he was lucky not to have been hurt by his son after making the cut.
“It was like the ultimate horse collar. He should have been flagged a penalty for it,” said Funk, who served as head golf coach at Maryland from 1982-1988 after graduating from the school in 1980. “[Playing with Taylor] was really a true bucket-list thing that I thought would never really happen. Last year a friend of ours, P.H. Horgan, [who] used to play [on] the PGA Tour, was a tournament director there in Bermuda. He called me out of nowhere and said, ‘Hey, I want to get you and Taylor in the field, do you want to do it?’And I went ‘Are you kidding me? That would be great!'”
The only reason Funk agreed to playing in Bermuda was because he was paired with Taylor; otherwise, he would have passed on the opportunity. Funk’s back has been hurting for a while, and he didn’t want to add any more unnecessary strain on his body. But getting the chance to compete with his son justified the aches and pains.
“I was rooting for Taylor big time. I wouldn’t have played if I didn’t play in the field with him,” Funk said. “I hate to bring it up all of the time, but my back has been really terrible for three years and I haven’t been competitive at all. And I actually just withdrew [from] the tournament before in Richmond — the senior event — after two and a half holes and I just went to Bermuda thinking I’m going to have a hard time. … I swore I was going to finish 36 holes, if you were going to have to carry me, and play with my son.”
As he showed, Funk was able to carry himself around the course and finish all 72 holes. It took a lot of perseverance for Funk to finish four rounds, especially with some ups and downs throughout the four days.
Funk emphasized that he wished it was Taylor who made the cut instead of him. Even though it was a satisfying moment for him, Funk knows that Taylor’s career would have benefitted more had he qualified rather than Funk himself.
“It was something where I just willed my way around the golf course,” Funk said. “And then I wanted Taylor to make the cut. If he had made the cut, then it would have meant a lot more to me than even me making the cut because it meant so much for him. Because if he does that it’s another little step toward the PGA Tour because we get him out of the pre-qualifiers when he goes and tries to get into a tournament, where you have to qualify before you get to the qualifier. So it just makes it a little easier for him.”
For more from Funk, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the PGA Tour