Fred Funk leads first day of Skins Game
He who wears the skirt laughs last.
Proving that he's one of the best sports around, Fred Funk wore a pink flowered skirt for the third hole of the Skins Game on Saturday, his penalty for being outdriven by Annika Sorenstam.
Funk then ended one of the silliest front nines ever by sinking a 25-foot eagle putt from the fringe to win $225,000 and six skins.
"It was beyond expectations," said the 49-year-old Funk, who was making his Skins Game debut. "I was a nervous wreck on one, then I had to pull the skirt out on three, and that was a lot of fun. It was just an unbelievable front nine."
Tiger Woods was the only other member of the foursome to cash in during the first nine holes at Trilogy Golf Course, winning three skins and $75,000 on No. 3, the hole that had everyone laughing.
"I know he had the skirt on, but I don't know if he had a thong on underneath there," Woods said. "It certainly was good."
Woods ignited a battle of the sexes by telling Funk that he'd never hear the end of it if Sorenstam outdrove him even once during the Skins Game, which is sponsored by Merrill Lynch.
Funk, known for his short but straight tee shots, told Sorenstam a few weeks ago that he'd wear the skirt for an entire hole if she outdrove him. He just didn't imagine having to wear it so early.
After coming close on the first two holes, Sorenstam outdrove Funk by seven yards on the par-5 No. 3. Because of the angle, Funk's ball technically was closer to the hole. But Sorenstam's ball had sailed 278 yards off the tee and Funk's 271 yards.
"I hit it right into the hill; it just didn't roll anywhere," Funk said.
Sorenstam pulled the skirt out of her bag and the easygoing Funk gamely pulled it on over his pants.
"It's Funky's idea," said Sorenstam, who's coming off a 10-win season on the LPGA Tour. "I thought it was a great idea. I said, 'I'm in, I'm cool.' It was just a matter of when. I was hoping it would be sooner rather than later. It was kind of heavy for my caddie to carry."
"It was a big skirt," Funk said.
Before hitting his approach shot, Funk got into the spirit of the gag by rolling up his pants legs. Later, Sorenstam autographed the skirt, with Funk still in it.
"I was hoping it wasn't going to come out quite so early," Funk said. "I never really realized how hard it is to line up a putt with a skirt on. Especially with Tiger looking from the other end. That was a lot of fun, though."
While marking his ball on the green, "I almost pulled a groin trying to get down there," Funk said.
As he squatted to line up his putt, Funk asked Woods, "What do you think?"
Woods' sidesplitting response was much more suited for the locker room than national TV.
Funk's birdie putt missed to the right and Woods made a short putt to win $75,000 and three skins.
As he walked off the green, still laughing, Woods said: "I don't think anybody will remember me winning skins here."
Funk got his payback when he kept Sorenstam from winning $75,000 on the par-3 No. 6.
Sorenstam drove the flag and her ball landed 2 feet from the hole, seemingly a gimme for the cash. After she watched Woods and Couples fail to make birdie, Funk rammed home a 20-foot birdie putt. Sorenstam took the ball out of the cup and threw it into an adjoining lake, and three fans jumped in and went swimming after it. Sorenstam then made her putt to halve the hole.
After two more skins carried over, Funk made his big putt on No. 9.
Fred Couples, the King of Skins, could have halved No. 9 and carried the big pot over until Sunday, but his 12-foot eagle putt curled just to the right.
"I just didn't want to get shut out," Funk said. "I didn't dream of winning something that big."
On No. 7, Woods had a chance to win $125,000 but rolled his 15-foot birdie putt just right.
Couples could have won $175,000 and five skins on No. 8 if his downhill putt from the fringe hadn't gone left.
The final nine holes of the made-for-TV tournament will be played Sunday, with $700,000 up for grabs.
November 27, 2005
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