x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Funk gets emotional at qualifying

At 55, Fred Funk knows this may be his last chance to play in a US Open before his hometown fans.

Fred Funk was so emotional when he qualified for the US Open, his voice cracked when he spoke. Tears flowed moments later.

That is how much this major championship means to him. That is why he went through 36 holes of qualifying against players half his age.

Funk turned 55 yesterday. He had knee replacement surgery more than a year ago, and is dealing with tissue that connects the hip to the knee and is causing him great pain. He has not made it to the final two rounds in any of the six PGA Tour events he has played this year.

So why punish himself in a US Open qualifier?

For starters, Funk grew up not far from Congressional, in Bethesda, Maryland. He played his first PGA Tour event on the course. And this surely will be his last chance to play in the US Open before a hometown crowd.

That explains his reaction when he narrowly qualified.

"The first question I got was, 'What does this mean to you?' And I broke down," Funk said. "I didn't expect that, because I didn't know I had that kind of feelings, or emotion ...

"It meant a lot to me, because it's my hometown, and Congressional is a very special spot. It's pretty neat."

No other major has so many dreamers, from the 13 amateurs in the 156-man field to the 28 players who went through qualifying. Funk is the oldest player at Congressional this week. On a course that measures 7,574 yards, he is among the shortest hitters. But he is not daunted.

"Nobody knows how good they're going to play, but I still have high expectations," he said.