Fred Funk Interview (SportsPub Golf Podcast)

Travis Fulton interviews 8 time PGA Tour and 9 time PGA Tour Champions winner Fred Funk! Travis talks to Fred about the best drivers on Tour, Fred’s win at The Players Championship with TPC logo balls, gambling during practice rounds with Chris DiMarco, winning with his son Taylor caddying for him, stories about playing with Tiger Woods, a story about Bernhard Langer & a fire alarm, and much more!

Timecode Guide

0:29 Fulton: “How’s Texas? I know you’re a new Texan out there in Austin. How’s it going?”

  • Fred Funk: “Well, to tell you how it started. We got here the day before the ice storm. We leave Florida after 30 years of being in Ponte Vedra. We move in here, and literally eight hours later, we had an ice storm. The next day, we had seven inches of snow, and I’m like ‘Really?’”
  • Fulton: “Hey, Sharon (Funk, Fred’s wife)!”
  • Sharon Funk: “Oh, hey Travis! How are you? It’s going cold, it feels like 37 (degrees) today!”
  • Fulton: “It’s 81 here in Ponte Vedra today!”

2:38 Fulton: “Hey, let me ask you. Stewart Cink, 48 or 47. How about that? I mean, this guy is pretty cool. I mean, it’s a young man’s game, right? And all this distance and here’s Stewart busting over 300. Great iron play, his putting was incredible and just puts it to the young guys. It’s pretty cool.”

  • Funk: “Yeah that, and have his son on the bag and win twice or three times at the Hilton Head. Stewie’s a really good friend of everybody, not just me. They’ve been through a lot. His wife had a huge battle with cancer, and she’s doing really well now. Saw here on the sidelines, tears rolling down underneath her sunglasses. Very emotional for the family, in such a great way. I think it’s fantastic what Stewart’s doing. How tall are you?”
  • Fulton: “6’4”
  • Funk: “So, he’s about six-three to four, and he can get on it. He’s always had the one swing that’s never really changed. And if there’s a guy that is a great example of owning his golf swing, it’s him.”

5:28 Fulton: “SportsPub is, we’re about kind of a golf gambling here with this podcast. And of course, it’s really blown up in this game. You see now people betting on not only on fantasy golf, but head-to-head match-ups, Top 20s, win tickets, you name it. That’s what’s happening. We have a show called ‘Cash-out with the Coaches’ where we give our picks every single week. All the time we work together, I don’t think I asked you. You weren’t that big of a gambler out there on tour. I mean, you do some side games here and there with your good buddy, Chris DeMarco. But anything extravagant from that standpoint?”

  • Funk: “No, not at all. And I think it’s really neat they’ve opened up the gambling where you can pick guys head-to-head, and things like that on the Vegas line, from what I believe.”

8:27 Fulton: “TPC Louisiana, you’ve played well there late in your career, which is a big course. But I think you were in the top ten the last time you played there at Zurich, when it was a stroke played, I’m pretty sure.”

  • Funk: “I didn’t play that course that well at the new, and I did an English Turn at the old one. English Turn is where I played really well. I finished second there one year. I think Chris Couch won that one.”

12:58 Fulton: “I want to take you back to a Pete Dye design. TPC sawgrass, you know well, you played for many, many years. You won it 2005 at the age of 48, the oldest to do it. You told me a story years ago about the first round, though. You didn’t have golf balls, and you had to get a sleeve of balls. This is a PGA Tournament, the fifth major. How did this go down with golf balls into the players?”

  • Funk: “While I was playing a gambling match, I always practice rounds at least one day a week with Chris DiMarco. And we would play for 25 dollars or 50 dollars, it would add up. He was beating my butt a lot of those weeks. But that particular day was the Wednesday before the tournament. I had the Titleist X ball about the third hole. And he goes, ‘What are you doing with that ball? You can’t hit that ball, you need to use my ball. So he had the next ball down, the non-X. I ended up beating him, I shot really low that day.”

15:14 Fulton: “Now, knowing you, that’s not the first time something like that’s ever happened. I can recall when you won back in 2012, I think you won the Insperity. And the next week, I remember I was sitting in my bedroom and I was watching the Golf Channel. They were talking about you, I think it was like a Tuesday the next week. And they said, ‘Fred’s got a new set of irons in the bag after winning the Insperity.’ I turned around and looked at my wife, I was like ‘Why would you put a new set of irons in the bag after you just beat Tom Lehman at the Insperity coming down that big stretch.’ Remember that big shot you hit on the 72nd hole, over the water?”

  • Funk: “Actually, that was the only one I had with him on the bag. And it was a gold mine to have him carried for me for a couple of years when he got out of college, or out of high school.”
  • Fulton: “You changed the whole set the next week. You actually won twice in Hickory in October later on. And then, you won the Schwab down the stretch in Phoenix, remember that? I think you finished second or third.”
  • Funk: “Yeah, second or third. It’s been a while since I’ve played good since I’m hurt. It’s been a long time.”

17:04 Fulton: “That tinkering with equipment, with you guys, it’s so easy. It’s like, on the outside, as a coach, you kind of get frustrated. But then, the players. Like there’s maybe that little spark or advantage. And I was talking with Alan Tara, who coached with Dustin (Johnson). And Dustin Johnson will put a putter like that. I mean, there’s nothing holding him back.”

  • Funk: “I’ve used four putters in four rounds.”
  • Fulton: “So, Alan’s telling me the story a couple of weeks ago. He says he walks out there and Dustin’s got his second putter in the bag. He’s looking at it, and he’s like, ‘What’s that?’ Then, he goes, ‘I’m just putting it in there so he let’s the other one know that there’s other options out there.”

18:08 Fulton: “Talk to me about Tiger (Woods) healing up. It was a scary moment with his wreck. But he’s back in Florida now, and everything seems to be pretty optimistic and positive. Like, he’s healing up pretty darn good. Not surprising, it’s Tiger Woods. There’s no question we’ll see him back out there again with his work ethic and ability to do things. But you’ve played with Tiger a few times, the skins game comes to mind. Something about wearing a skirt with Annika (Sorenstam). Tell me about Tiger, your interactions with him, and what that’s all about.”

  • Funk: “Tiger’s awesome. He’s one of those guys where, the more crap you give him, the more he loves it, and the more he dishes it back. He loves to give you the needle and if you respond to him kind of meekly, he just doesn’t say anything else. But if you fire back at him, he’s all in. It’s game on.”
  • Fulton: “I remember, I was gonna say you got the last laugh there that year, for sure, with winning the skins.”

22:57 Fulton: “Alright, a little rapid fire here. You’re the straightest driver. Certainly you, we have to throw in Calvin Pete in there, who of course you knew really well. So did I hear in Ponte Vedra. Give me a second, a close second that you played with, that you felt like was, ‘man, this guy is as straight as I am’ every time out here.”

  • Funk: “I thought one of the best drivers, he was never known for the length, was Joe Durant. Joe was laser straight. Still is, obviously. Doug Tewell was, and Hale Irwin was back in those days. We all kind of battled, we were the top four guys when we were all on the tour at the same time. But I think Joe Durant was a better driver than me. He was ten to fifteen yards longer than me.”

24:00 Fulton: “A lot of people don’t know you were a good boxer when you were younger too. And was there a time when you wanted to box a face or two out there on the tour once in a while?”

  • Funk: “Well, I did have a really bad moment with Webbie. That’s a whole long story that was something where I should have gotten thrown off the tour for a little while and fined heavily. But I think all the officials agreed with my viewpoint, and they just kind of let it go.”
  • Fulton: “Yeah, we’ll leave it at that.”
  • Funk: “But I did grow up in PG (Prince George’s) county right outside DC in Maryland. It’s a border county that was, it was a rough county. The southern part of PG county. So, all the boys clubs had boxing teams. And I joined the boxing team when I was eight. Sugar Ray Leonard grew up in PG county. He was my age, we were pretty much the same size. I wish, to this day, that I actually did fight him to say that I got my rear end kicked by Sugar Ray.”

27:40 Fulton: “I gotta ask you before we finish up here in the podcast. I need to ask you about a guy that you’ve played a lot of golf with, and just a character. Someone who I enjoy playing. And when I was with you, I was out there a couple of times with you, I think I caddied with you once at the father-son, and you played with Bernhard Langer. And he’s just like one of the most fascinating guys to me. Just how great he is at golf. I mean, it’s amazing how good he was. People don’t realize he was great when he was younger. And, of course, he went through the putting issues. But he was a wonderful Ryder Cup player. If he didn’t go through those putting woes, you wonder what outcome or record would that guy have had.”

  • Funk: “We’re in Biloxi, Mississippi and we’re playing the tournament there. We’re all staying at the Beau Rivage, and we’re up on the 25th, 26th, eight floors up. We’re at the top in the suites. And we get this fire alarm about three in the morning. Everybody’s disregarding. I go out in the hall, nobody’s in the hall. And then, this thing finally keeps going off. Then we hear the fire trucks, then they come in with an announcement and they say, ‘You gotta get out!’ So, we can’t use the elevators, gotta use the stairs. I’m going down the steps, twenty-some floors down. I get to the fourth or fifth level down, and as I turn the corner, I can see Bernhard. Now, everybody’s in their pajamas, they all look like they just woke up. Bernhard is impeccable. He has perfect hair, like he just got out of the shower and blown dry. He had this button-down shirt with his sweater tied around his shoulders and perfectly-pressed jeans, loaders, and a briefcase.”

34:16 Fulton: “I know you started a podcast too. Tell us about it with the Terps (Maryland Terrapins) back where you went to college.”

  • Funk: “Chick Hernandez has worked for ESPN, and different other announcing gigs. He’s been in the media for a very long time covering golf. And he’s done a lot of stuff podcasting, and I just say, ‘would you be interested in teaming up?’ So we had about five or six episodes now. And we tape it on Tuesdays, it’s called ‘On the Tee with The Terps’ and, with ‘Chick and the Hawk.’ I’m the Hawk, obviously, with the nose. And he’s the Chick, he’s Chick.’

Full Topic Coverage

Travis Fulton of SportsPub Media hosts the podcast. For his guest, Fulton interviews the 8-time PGA Tour and 9-time PGA Tour Champions winner Fred Funk. Travis and Fred discuss various topics, and reminisced about the times they had moments with each other.

First, Funk told the story how they ended up in Austin, Texas, after living 30 years in Ponte Vedra, Florida. As the family moved to Texas after a long drive from Florida, eight hours later, they experienced an ice storm. The next day, they had seven inches of snow in their new home.

Fulton then talked about how Stewart Cink, at 47 years of age, won the most recent PGA Tournament, becoming the only person above 45 this season to win two Masters. According to Funk, Cink is just a good friend of every golfer. Even with his size, Cink is one of the best golf swings.

Then, Fulton elaborated what SportsPub Media is all about, although he also acknowledged that Funk is not that big of a gambler. Nevertheless, Funk thought golf gambling is a good idea, especially with all the head-to-heads and other Vegas lines offered.

Since Funk loves Pete Dye-designed golf courses, Fulton remembered that time when Funk had to get a sleeve of golf balls. According to Funk, it started with playing practice rounds for money with Chris DiMarco for a week. Since DiMarco suggested Funk to use a different ball, Funk obliged anyway. He ended up beating DiMarco and shot really low.

The two also discussed how Tiger Woods has been slowly recovering from his horrific accident early this year, and their favorite moments with the greatest. Also, Funk discussed his days as a boxer back in the day, and how he trained with legendary pugilist Sugar Ray Leonard.

Finally, Funk shared a great story about one of the best golfers that he shared moments with, personally and professionally. During a tournament in Biloxi, Mississippi, a fire broke out in the hotel they were staying. As Funk went down the emergency stairway, he saw German golfer Bernhard Langer carrying his briefcase the entire time. Apparently, it was something Langer can’t afford to lose in the fire.


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