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Fred Funk has high expectations heading into U.S. Open

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's hard to sum up just how emotional Fred Funk's day at Woodmont Country Club was back on June 6. With his 15-year-old son, Taylor, caddying for him and his wife, Sharon, by his side, Funk qualified for the U.S. Open.

The first question after stepping off the 18th green was how much it meant to the Takoma Park native and former University of Maryland golf coach to make the tournament, being played at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda. He broke down in tears and needed a few minutes to compose himself.

"I didn't really expect that because I didn't know I had that kind of feelings or emotions in me for that at the moment," Funk said.

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One thing has been clear from that moment over a week ago: Just being in this field means the world to Funk, who turned 55 Tuesday. By the next time the U.S. Open gets to Congressional, Funk knows he'll be in his twilight years in golf – 68 or 69 potentially – and this could be his final chance.

Looking back, Funk is proud every time he gets to play this course, including the last time the national championship tournament was here in 1997. Before that, he had limited opportunities.

"I grew up in College Park, but playing Congressional was something that was taboo for a P.G. County guy, you didn't go across the Montgomery County line without a visa," he said. "So we didn't get over to this part of the world very often."

Funk is really the only local guy in the field, as Steve Marino isn't at Congressional for the week. Funk called that "neat" and knows he'll have a lot of eyes on him. Despite some struggles this year that made even qualifying a shock to him, Funk doesn't want to be done with the surprises.

"Nobody knows how good they're going to play. But I still have high expectations," he said. "I'm not here just to walk two rounds or four rounds and just show up. I want to be able to be competitive, and I truly believe I can still be competitive when I'm playing well and feeling good."

The way Funk was talking Monday at Congressional, he's set the bar extremely high for himself.

"If I win this week I might get in the Hall of Fame, but that would be one hell of a criteria," Funk said. "I was thinking, maybe that's not a joke, maybe I could do that. But who knows? It would be my qualifier for that."

If Funk pulls off that feat, don't expect Sunday – Father's Day – to be short on emotion, either.

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