- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fred Funk took a walk around Congressional Country Club last week after qualifying for the U.S. Open and had one thought: “Uh oh — it’s going to play long.”

For the 55-year-old Takoma Park native known for his time as University of Maryland golf coach and not known for his ability to drive the ball far, this tournament was expected to be a major challenge. It fit that bill Thursday as Funk shot a 4-over 75 in his first round. But he was smiling as he stepped off the course.

“I really enjoyed all the support I got — that was fantastic. It was fun being out there,” Funk said. “Overall, I’m real pleased with the way I handled myself and the way the day went as far as the atmosphere and the crowds and everything.”

Funk double bogeyed the third hole and bogeyed the 18th — the only two he wished he could have back. But being the only real local in the field wasn’t the only reason this opening round at Congressional was special; Funk’s 15-year-old son, Taylor, served as his caddie — the first time he has done so in a major championship.

“That was another thing that was really emotional was having a chance to have my son on the bag and playing the U.S. Open,’ Funk said. “The next time it comes around, I’ll caddie for him.”

Funk joked that he’ll be 110 years old the next time this tournament returns to Bethesda, so he grasps the significance of enjoying the experience no matter the result. Still, he’d like to make the cut to keep these good vibrations going.

“I probably need to shoot only 2 over [Friday]. Got to go out there and try to do it,” he said. “But if I don’t, it’ll be a fun ride.”

Rain, rain goes away

This U.S. Open got off to a soggy start as rain was falling while the first few groups got onto the course. With 156 players needing to get through their rounds and a chance of showers late in the day, there was no chance to wait.

Players weren’t thrilled about those conditions, but it may have played into their favor.

“Obviously, we were a little frustrated that we started in rain, but that cleared off soon enough,” said Padraig Harrington, who went out at 7:44 a.m. and shot par. “I thought the course played very well.”

Others who went out early, including defending champion Graeme McDowell (1-under) and reigning British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (2-under), were beneficiaries of overcast conditions and greens that were damp and slow.

Every day is Father’s Day

Frenchman Gregory Havret this week is playing his first tournament since his father died of vascular disease just 11 days prior. Havret’s dad followed him around last year at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, watching him finish second to McDowell.

Havret shot a 6-over 77 on Thursday.

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