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Fred Funk wants to be part of Ryder Cup again

Although Fred Funk will get his first taste of golf with the seniors later this year, the 49-year-old American is determined to play in September's Ryder Cup.

Funk, who qualifies for the over-fifties Champions Tour on June 14, played on the losing U.S. team at Oakland Hills in 2004 and would dearly love a second chance in the biennial competition.

"My only initial goal this year was to try to make Tom Lehman's team," Funk told reporters on Tuesday as he prepared for this week's Doral Championship.

"I would love to do that and be a part of that, because it's been so much fun being a part of the three teams I've been on in the last three years."

Funk, a winner of seven titles on the PGA Tour, also represented his country at the Presidents Cup team competition in 2003 and last year.

"That would be a huge goal to make, and honestly, I was in good position when the year started, but now I've fallen way back," said the Florida resident, who lies 30th in the U.S. Cup standings.

Funk needs to climb into the top 10 by the end of the U.S. PGA Championship at Medinah, Illinois on Aug. 20 to qualify for Lehman's team on merit.

"But you can also see where it doesn't take much to jump back up in there," he added. "If I do it the right week and have a few good weeks, I could be right back in the picture.

"The Players Championship came out of nowhere last year," said Funk, who clinched the biggest title of his career last March with a one-shot victory at the Players, widely considered the unofficial fifth major.

Funk believes the Americans need to ease the pressure on themselves if they are to break the Ryder Cup dominance of the Europeans, who have won four of the last five matches.

"It's just so intense at the Ryder Cup," he said. "I think it would be very important for a captain to come in there and try to do what Tom is doing, to get the team together as early as you can and to think together as a team.

"But to try to minimise the pressure that we put on ourselves to win that thing, and to minimise the pressure that you guys (the media) put on us, I think that's what is really important.

"How can we create an atmosphere that we go out and have fun and enjoy it. If we win, great. If we don't, don't worry about it.

"Just go out there and give us the best opportunity to play the way we're capable of playing. The only way we can do that is to lower the pressure a little bit. It's going to be tough being over there on their soil, too."

The U.S, skippered by Hal Sutton, crashed to a record defeat at the hands of Bernhard Langer's Europeans by 18-1/2 points to 9-1/2 in 2004.

The 36th Ryder Cup takes place at the K Club in County Kildare, Ireland from Sept. 22-24.

March 1, 2006


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