Fred Funk was born on this day in 1956, in Takoma Park, Maryland. He graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1980 with a degree in law enforcement. He turned professional in 1981, but worked as a golf coach at his alma mater from 1982 to 1988; he did not become a member of the PGA Tour until 1989.
He hit his first ever sub 70 round on the PGA Tour at the Kemper Open in 1998 following undergoing laser eye surgery just two days previously. Funk was a member of the United States teams at the 2003 and 2005 Presidents Cup and the 2004 Ryder Cup; he received some criticism in 2004 for opting out of The Open Championship, a major, despite having qualified. He played instead in that week’s B.C. Open, a much less prestigious event, but one which also offered Ryder Cup ranking points.
Since turning 50 in June 2006, Funk has been eligible for Champions Tour events and debuted in the 2006 US Senior Open. When he turned 50, he still featured in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings. He won a further PGA Tour tournament in 2007 after his senior debut, becoming only the second over-50 player to win on the PGA Tour in over thirty years, although his win came at the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun, which was an alternate event to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, so none of the world’s top 64 ranked players were in the field. By winning the first Mayakoba Golf Classic, Funk became the first man to win a PGA Tour event held in Mexico.
Funk is generally regarded as one of the shortest drivers on today’s PGA Tour, but is always at or near the top of the driving accuracy statistics. In fact, many of his playing competitors are now regarding him as perhaps the straightest driver to ever play golf; in the past 14 years, Funk has achieved the highest driving accuracy on the PGA Tour seven times, and has been in the top five of this statistic for every year but one in that period.
On March 28, 2005, Funk picked up the biggest win of his career, becoming the oldest player ever to win The Players Championship as well as the Skins Game, during which, to satisfy a friendly bet, he wore a pink skirt that Annika Sörenstam pulled out of her golf bag when she outdrove Funk on the par five third hole. The skirt was actually picked out by his wife, Sharon.
In August 2008, Funk won his first senior major, the JELD-WEN Tradition.
On June 8, 2009 Funk became the oldest qualifier, at age 53, for the US Open at Bethpage Black by shooting 139 over 36 holes at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, surviving a playoff.
In August 2009, Funk won his second major championship on the Champions Tour at the 2009 US Senior Open at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana. Funk dominated the rest of the field and cruised to a 6 shot victory over Joey Sindelar. With his third senior major victory at the 2010 Jeld-Wen Tradition, he became the first player to win a PGA Tour-sanctioned event after knee-replacement surgery.
A popular player on tour, his fans are referred to as “Funk’s Punks.” The iconic songs – Play That Funky Music, and Give Up the Funkâ€”have become theme songs for the fan favourite.
Funk currently resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and plays a few PGA Tour events a year while devoting most of his time to the Champions Tour.