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Then again, Funk has been defying odds for nearly as long as he has been playing.

He didn’t make the golf team at Maryland as a freshman, so he transferred to a junior college until he was good enough to play for the Terps. He tried the mini-tours out of college until he ran out of money, then took over as Maryland coach and kept working on his game until he realized he wasn’t far off from the big leagues.

He qualified for his first PGA Tour event in the 1982 Kemper Open. It was held at Congressional, and Funk tied for 51st to earn a check of a whopping $947.20.

“I don’t know why I made it,” he said. “I was just a very hard worker, tenacious, and somewhere along that line I started believing in myself. I look back and I just go, ‘Man, I did all right.’”

Only now is not the time to look back.

“I still expect to achieve a lot more,” Funk said.

He’ll have the crowd on his side, not only from being a hometown favorite but as an inspiration as a guy who wouldn’t quit. He’ll need much more than that on a Congressional course with greens that already are getting firm under warm sunshine, and in a major which only twice in the last five years has yielded a winning score under par.

Monday was the first full day of practice. The range was filled with mostly amateurs and local qualifiers wanting to soak up the experience. Others spent the day chipping and putting, hitting balls, perhaps getting in nine holes of practice, knowing to pace themselves for what figures to be a long week.

Ten players have won the last 10 majors, suggesting parity is greater than ever in golf, especially with Tiger Woods no longer on top of his game _ and not even at Congressional for the U.S. Open as he tries to mend his left leg.

Even so, PGA champion Martin Kaymer figures only 30 or 40 players have a realistic chance of winning. He didn’t mention names, although Funk was probably not on that short list.