Notes: Ailing Funk still contending
SUNRIVER, Ore. – Fred Funk is handling his various ailments with humor.
The 53-year-old has a bum right knee which causes a slight limp, and a torn muscle in his right shoulder.
On the Champions Tour, where all the golfers are 50 and older, it’s not unusual. Various therapists are a constant presence to soothe muscles and joints that have been subjected to a lifetime on the links.
At the Jeld-Wen Tradition, where Funk is the defending champion, he jokingly denied his gait – referencing the late comic Marty Feldman’s portrayal of the hunchback Igor in Mel Brooks’ classic comedy.
“I don’t have a limp! Everybody says that,” he smiled. “It’s like Young Frankenstein: ‘What hump?’”
Aches and pains haven’t brought Funk down this year. He was coming off a victory at the U.S. Senior Open, where he became the first player in a USGA championship to finish at 20-under par. A week earlier, he lost in a three-way playoff at the Senior British Open.
He has finished in the top 10 in the previous three Champions Tour majors this season and leads the Charles Schwab Cup points standings.
The heat during the Tradition’s first round at Crosswater Golf Club did cause him some problems, however. Temperatures in the high desert of central Oregon soared to near 100.
On hole No. 12, Funk fumbled with some stickers, which he places on points of his body where there’s pain for a sort of electromagnetic therapy.
“I was going to put them everywhere but I was too sweaty,” he said.
Funk isn’t sure how, or if, the stickers help, but he subscribes to the theory that they can’t hurt.
Funk was a stroke back of leader Brad Bryant after two rounds.
Funk shot a final-round 3-under 69 in the Tradition last year for a three-shot victory over Mike Goodes and his first win in a major on the tour.
While he was here last year, he saw a local therapist who used a spoon-like tool to dig at his muscles.
“It hurts, but it works,” he laughed.
Funk says he’ll probably have to get his right knee replaced, but he’s trying to put it off as long as possible.
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COOK’S ASSESSMENT: John Cook doesn’t need a sports psychologist to know what he’s doing wrong this season.
“I’ve made some horrible, horrible mental mistakes,” he said. “I feel like I could have won this year but my brain has gotten in the way.”
His best finish this season was a tie for third at the Legends of Golf tournament in Savannah, Ga.
Cook joined the Champions Tour in 2007 and has won twice, at the AT&T Championship in both 2007 and 2008.
He won 11 events on the PGA Tour.
“The goal for the next nine weeks is to stop being a knucklehead,” he said.
He went into the third round of the Jeld-Wen Tradition in a group at 8-under, two shots back of leader Brad Byrant.