Thursday, January 29

Funk heads crowded leaderboard

CHASKA, Minn. -- Fred Funk was reluctant to leave Hazeltine National Golf Club when the storm arrived. He was holing every putt, slapping every hand, leading the PGA Championship and having the time of his life.

Friday at Hazeltine
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Mike Weir shot a 2-over 74 on Friday. That's only part of the story, however. Weir, who started on the 10th hole, made three straight double bogeys on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes. "I don't think I've ever made three double bogeys before," Weir said. He hit his tee shot into the water at 16, found the pond near the par-3 17th with his tee shot, and got stuck in a fairway bunker on 18. But Weir rebounded and shot a 2-under 34 on the front.

HOLE OF THE DAY: No. 18. The par-4, 457-yard hole was expected to be troublesome, but Mark Calcavecchia, Rich Beem and Retief Goosen all birdied it on Friday. Beem did it in unconventional style, hitting his tee shot right of the trees, but sticking his approach to within five feet.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "So I don't go No. 2 on the golf course." -- Rich Beem, one of the clubhouse leaders, on why he takes a swig of Pepto Bismol before every round.

LONG DAY: Club pro Tom Dolby, the head pro at Greystone Golf Club in Minnesota, shot 94 on Friday, thanks to back spasms that left him in agony. Asked when the last time he shot in the 90s was, he said: "Seventh grade, eighth grade. I don't know."

PROUD ALUM: Charles Howell III, who shot 69 Friday and is 3-under, said he's used to windy weather, having played his college golf at Oklahoma State. "I guess the one reason I played college golf at Oklahoma State was to get ready for the bad weather," he said. "It wasn't for the scenery or the good weather."
-- David Kraft

Wait until he sees what's in store when he comes back.

The forecast calls for strong wind, with gusts that could approach 40 mph.

Play was supposed to resume at 8:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, but it was pushed back two hours because the course wasn't ready. Hazeltine got 3 inches of rain in a three-hour period Friday night, and not even the raging wind Saturday morning could dry it out quickly.

''I think par will be about 78,'' Funk said Friday.

Making it even tougher are the cast of characters behind him -- a collection of major championship winners, including Tiger Woods.

''I'm just trying to have a really good time and enjoy the moment, however long this lasts,'' said Funk, a 46-year-old with five PGA Tour victories, none of them even close to resembling a major. ''If it last all the way to the end of Sunday, that's great.''

The first step is finishing off the second round.

Funk charged up the galleries with one birdie after another, including one on the 636-yard third hole that put him at 8 under. He made his only bogey on No. 4, hitting out of the bunker to 3 feet and missing the putt.

Then, the siren sounded to stop play and Funk's day in the sun was over.

He was at 7-under par and has five holes to play when Funk and 40 others return to the course at 7:30 a.m. Saturday to finish the round.

Already in the clubhouse are Mark Calcavecchia, Retief Goosen, Justin Leonard and Rich Beem, all of them at 6-under 138. Lurking is Woods, who put together an early charge and was at 3 under with two holes to play. Ernie Els was another stroke behind.

''I'm not going to back down,'' Funk said.

Such confidence comes from a strong-but-short game and his knack for holing just about every putt. Perspective comes from an older brother, 57-year-old Bernie Funk, back in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., who recently decided to seek help for a drinking problem.

''I'm so proud of him,'' Funk said. ''It's been very emotional, and I've been using him a strength, because he showed a lot of strength to do what he's doing. If I end up not playing well, it's not because I'm scared. I'm going to go out there and give it my all.''

Retief Goosen
Retief Goosen blasted his way up the leadeboard with a second-round 69.

It certainly showed.

Funk swung the putter like a baseball bat when putts stopped short of the hole, pumped his fist and doffed his cap when they dropped for birdie, and exchanged high-fives to everyone along the way.

''I was having fun,'' he said. ''I was enjoying being in the lead at the PGA.''

Can he stay there?

Someone asked Funk if a 46-year-old journeyman with a reputation for not being able to hit the ball out of his shadow (136th in driving distance at 275.2 yards) can really win the PGA Championship.

''I'm playing good right now, putting well, scoring,'' Funk said. ''If I continue to do that, yeah, I can sneak in one on this kind of golf course, if all the stars line up.''

The stars already are lining up behind him.

That includes Woods.

The winner of the Masters and U.S. Open, Woods swiftly moved into contention with a burst of birdies -- a tee shot into 2 feet on No. 4, a 15-footer on the next hole and a two-putt birdie on the par-5 seventh.

He wasn't immune to blustery conditions late Friday afternoon, leaving his tee shot on the par-3 13th some 60 feet short and taking three putts for bogey.

Goosen, the U.S. Open champion last year, chipped in for birdie on the 18th for his second straight 69. Calcavecchia ('89 British Open) went at every pin and made it pay off for a 68. Leonard ('97 British Open) made five birdies in a 10-hole stretch for a 66, matching the lowest competitive round at Hazeltine.

Joining them was the happy-go-lucky Beem, who hit out of the trees and into the slope on the 18th green, the ball stopping 4 feet away for his eighth birdie of his round of 66.

''If I had missed the cut this week, it would not have been a big deal, not a blow to my ego at all,'' said Beem, a former stereo salesman. ''I'm still new to the ballgame. I'd like to find out how good I can get.''

The usual contenders were nowhere to be found.

Phil Mickelson made double bogey on his final hole for a 72 and narrowly made the cut, although he'll likely spend the next eight months contemplating another year gone by without a major.

David Duval couldn't find the fairway and shot 77. Sergio Garcia charged and retreated and wound up with a 73. All of them were at 4-over 146.

Beem is showing plenty of game this week.

He has better stuff than his pedigree might indicate, fundamentally sound in all aspects and only lately showing some results. His victory two weeks ago at the International was his second on the PGA Tour, and perhaps a major is the next step.

''I'm just as surprised as you all that I'm sitting here,'' Beem said. ''What I'm not surprised is that I'm playing well. I know I've got some game, but at the same time, this is a major and I haven't really done anything in the majors yet.''

Considering this is only his fourth major and he had made only one cut (tie for 70th in the '99 PGA Championship), that would be a fair assessment.

No debating his outlook on the weekend, either.

''I don't know exactly what's going to happen tomorrow, but it's going to be fun,'' Beem said. ''Unless I shoot 90. Then it won't be fun.''

Unless the wind blows like it did at Muirfield in the third round last month. Then, 90 might not be so bad.

''People like seeing train wrecks,'' Funk said. ''You're going to see some train wrecks when you have this. Everybody is going to be struggling in it.''

An early morning treat from Tiger

PGA Championship second-round scores

Kraft: Hazeltine blinks, early starters capitalize

Mickelson, Duval fall short again

Friday's round could be calm before the storm

Harig: Beem beaming

Frozen Moment: Tiger nearly ran away

PGA Championship -- Second-round scorecards

Notebook: Howell's fruitless search

Leonard ties course record with 66

Goosen climbs to 3-under as first round is completed

Thursday: Furyk, Funk share first-round PGA lead

 PGA Championship
Fred Funk is just trying to enjoy the moment no matter how long it last.
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 PGA Championship
Rich Beem and his fellow players at six under talk about their second round play.
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