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Fred Funk to stay with the PGA Tour

Fred Funk spent two weeks on the Champions Tour this summer and decided it could wait.

"We're not quite mentally ready for that jump over," said Funk, who made the cut at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool last week.

Funk tied for 11th in the U.S. Senior Open, his debut in the 50-and-over circuit, then tied for 11th at the recent Ford Senior Players Championship. He had planned to stick around the United Kingdom this week for the Senior British Open at Turnberry, but never submitted his entry and will not play.

In fact, the only Champions Tour event he will play the rest of the year will be in San Antonio.

Funk has the luxury of taking his time, having won The Players Championship last year at age 48. That came with a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour that takes him through 2010, and with more than $18 million in career money, he could even take an exemption after that.

"The Players has really thrown a wrench into this," he said.

Funk didn't have a miserable experience with guys his own age, he's simply not ready to give up trying against the best players in the world. He mentioned good friends he already had, such as Loren Roberts and Jay Haas, and new acquaintances Jim Thorpe and Dana Quigley.

The ultimate late bloomer, he has qualified for the last three U.S. teams (twice the Presidents Cup, once the Ryder Cup) and has been to the Tour Championship the last four years.

"I'm just not finished out here yet," he said.

Also, his children are 14, 10 and 6, and the family travels everywhere. Most of their friends remain on the PGA Tour.

Funk says he is hitting the ball better than he was last year, just not getting the same results. His best chance came at New Orleans, where he closed with a 62 and nearly got into a playoff until Chris Couch saved par by chipping in from behind the 18th green.

The more he spoke, Funk sounded as though competing against the best would be as meaningful as winning on the Champions Tour.

"There's nothing like winning," Funk said. "Once I start having trouble finishing off tournaments, and the frustration sets in, I'll probably think about going over there."

In the meantime, he play this week in Milwaukee, then play the Buick Open, PGA Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, and continue competing on the PGA Tour with hopes of getting into the Tour Championship again.

July 25, 2006


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