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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > Champions Tour > AT&T Championship > Round 3
 

AT&T CHAMPIONSHIP RELATED STORIES





Fred Funk gains maiden senior win

Fred Funk was supposed to win quickly on the Champions Tour when he became eligible in July. And after only two events, he was tired of hearing about it.

So Funk went back to the PGA Tour for nine events, and he's returned a happier man.

"With all the anticipation, with my game not being where I wanted it to be, I really didn't enjoy those two weeks," Funk said.

He won for the first time in three Champions Tour starts Sunday, birdieing three of the last four holes for a 2-under 69 and a one-stroke victory in the AT&T Championship.

The 50-year-old Funk had a 12-under 201 total on the Oak Hills Country Club course. Chip Beck, also a newcomer on the Champions Tour, closed with a 65 to finish second. Scott Simpson (69) was 10 under.

Ben Crenshaw (68), Raymond Floyd (72) and Loren Roberts (69) finished four shots back.

Funk's 12-foot birdie putt at the short, 367-yard 17th put him one shot ahead of Beck.

Funk, who won The Players Championship last year for the last of his seven PGA Tour titles, earned $240,000. He tied for 11th in his two previous starts on the 50-and-over tour, the U.S. Senior Open and Senior Players Championship in July. He also had a runner-up finish in April in the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic.

Not many players come to the Champions Tour with games that can still win on the regular tour. And that's why Funk became the guy to beat.

"They're going to hype all the new guys coming from the big tour," Funk said. "All of a sudden I'm favored, and it's like nobody else is in the field. It's not that easy."

Funk started the day with a one-shot lead over Floyd and two over defending champion Jay Haas, who also won last week.

Floyd and Haas both shot even-par 72 to fall out of it, leaving Beck with the best shot at Funk.

"I knew a good round would go a long way," Beck said. "You always expect to play great, and my swing was in synch today."

But Beck hasn't been playing so great until lately.

He became eligible for the Champions Tour two months ago, but he hasn't won a tournament in more than 14 years. This is his second runner-up finish in five Champions Tour starts.

One of three players to shoot a 59 on the PGA Tour, Beck took a two-shot lead to the clubhouse after his bogey-free round. He had started the day five shots behind Funk, but took the lead when he reached the par-5, 513-yard 10th in two and made a 4-foot birdie putt.

Funk was struggling at the time. He missed the green on the first two holes and made bogeys. He sank a birdie putt of about 5 feet on No. 6, but he three-putted No. 8 from about 30 feet.

"It was tough today," he said. "I was struggling. But I stayed positive and tried to enjoy it, and it worked."

Despite birdies at 10 and 13, Funk wasn't through with his wild round. He bogeyed No. 14 before three straight birdies.

Even though he lost some momentum with the bogey at 14, he said the birdie at 13 was critical. He holed a bunker shot from 58 feet.

"That was a ridiculous shot," he said. "It turned everything around."

Despite finishing behind Roberts, Haas continues to lead in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup. With one tournament to go, Haas has 2,843 points and Roberts is 126 points behind.

The winner gets a $1 million bonus. First place at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship next week in Sonoma, Calif., is worth 880 points.

 




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