Most fans attending the FBR Open this week are unaware that a winner from last week is in the 132-man field. No, not Tiger Woods, who won the Buick Invitational on Sunday and is on his way to play in the Dubai Desert Classic.
The player in question is Fred Funk, who won by a record-setting 11 shots last week in the Turtle Bay Championship on the Champions Tour.
Asked on Tuesday what he was doing at the TPC of Scottsdale, the fast-talking Funk shot back: “I’m kind of wondering that myself.’’
“It’s a golf course that since they’ve made the changes is more of a bomber’s golf course, and obviously that’s not one of my strengths. I’ve had a little bit of success here, and I just thought I’d come here and give it another shot.’’
Chances are the 50-yearold Funk won’t be among the favorites this week. Unless, of course, he goes on another roll like last week in Hawaii.
“My putter was just ridiculous,’’ he said. “It didn’t matter whether I was 5 feet or 30 feet, it was either going in or really close. It took the heat off the long game.’’
Funk added he remains committed to the PGA Tour with “probably six tournaments on the Champions. But that could change. … I’m reevaluating as I go.’’
THE HARD WAY
Tommy Armour III, who along with Alex Cejka and Jim Rutledge qualified for the FBR on Monday, said he knew he wouldn’t get a sponsor’s exemption despite being the 1990 Phoenix Open champ.
“I think my (agent) wrote a letter, but I wasn’t expecting one,’’ said Armour when asked if he had sought a free ticket from the Thunderbirds, the civic organization which runs the event.
“They didn’t give me one 11 years after I won the tournament — and this is 17 years later.’’
Armour’s reference was to the PGA Tour’s old 10-year rule that exempted former champs into tournaments they had won. Today, there is a five-year exemption for past winners.
BOO BREAKS THROUGH
Tour eccentric Boo Weekley finally made his way into the field Tuesday when Shane Bertsch withdrew because of unknown reasons. Weekley had been bumped on Sunday by Charlie Wi, who finished among the top 10 at the Buick Invitational.
Then Weekley tried unsuccessfully to qualify on Monday. A day later, Boo’s back!
Rain, wind and cold kept Tuesday’s crowd down to 17,920 fans. That’s considerably off from last year, when 30,380 attended.
Granted, Tuesday is one of the least-attended days. But it might not get much better today, as the weather forecast is again gloomy.