Funk keeps word, skirts issue as he embarrasses Skins field

Commentary

November 28, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

There's no crying in baseball, but apparently there is cross-dressing in golf ... and it can be quite profitable.

Former University of Maryland golf coach Fred Funk donned a flowered skirt for the third hole of the Skins Game on Saturday and undressed his three opponents on the way to a record-setting, $925,000 victory yesterday at the Trilogy Golf Club in La Quinta, Calif.

He credited the strange wager he made with LPGA superstar Annika Sorenstam with keeping him relaxed enough to become the biggest single-event money-winner under the current Skins format.

Don't laugh. If I thought it would help me break 90, I'd let my wife pick me out something frilly from the Victoria's Secret catalog before my next round. (Now, there's a mental picture that should go well with your cornflakes.)

Funk, who ranks 197th in driving distance on the PGA Tour, had agreed to wear a skirt for the rest of the hole the first time Sorenstam outdistanced him off the tee, and he made good on the bet early in the first round - much to the delight of his competitors and fans.

"I didn't want it to happen that early, but I was glad to get it out of the way on the third hole," Funk said in a television interview after sinking a birdie putt on the 18th hole for $550,000 yesterday. "It loosened everybody up, got it out of the way and let everybody have a lot of fun."

The reason Funk is such a popular golfer is that he always has a lot of fun, but when he got down to business, he dominated the par-5s to beat Tiger Woods at his own game and sent Fred Couples to his first shutout in Skins competition. Now, he can laugh all the way to the bank.

I watched the other 'Skins game, too, and it wasn't pretty. Marty Schottenheimer returned to FedEx Field and became the second former Redskins coach to win a road game in Washington in eight days.

The Redskins gave away last week's game to Norv Turner's Oakland Raiders and blew a late 10-point lead to the San Diego Chargers yesterday. Owner Dan Snyder is probably still trying to pry his foot out of the wall.

If anybody knows what to make of Kyle Boller's performance yesterday, please write.

The difference between the first half and the second half of the Ravens' 42-29 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals was so dramatic that I've developed a conspiracy theory.

If you were Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, would you want the Ravens to go out and get a better quarterback next year? I don't think so. And if you were up 34-0 in the third quarter, would you really give a hoot if young Kyle threw a couple of touchdown passes to boost his self-esteem and maybe play well enough over the next few weeks to lull the Ravens into a false sense of quarterback job security?

OK, that's a little bit nutso, but it's impossible to draw any conclusions from yesterday's game because it's impossible to evaluate an offense during the late stages of a blowout.

Boller's breakout performance was probably a combination of two factors: He had reached the point where he just said "the heck with it" and crawled out from under all the pressure that has built up on him during the past few weeks, and the Bengals likely were playing a slightly more relaxed defense with the big lead.

Still, the late rally did show Boller has a good arm and a lot of untapped potential. What it could not show was whether he can tap any more of that potential when it really matters.

I'm still scratching my head over the B.J. Ryan deal, which reportedly will become official today in Toronto.

The Blue Jays supposedly have $20 million in additional payroll to spend for next year, and the word on the street is they hope acquiring Ryan will persuade free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett to sign a five-year, $50 million deal. If that's really all the money they have to spend, the two pitchers would use up all of their free-agent budget.

In a perfect world, Ryan and Burnett would make the Blue Jays a much-improved team, but Ryan is still a relatively inexperienced closer and Burnett has been injured for a big chunk of his career. If anything goes wrong, the Jays will have left themselves even more vulnerable to the big-money teams in the American League East.

If, however, they still have money to spend to upgrade the offense, they could mount quite a challenge to the existing divisional power structure.

There is talk that the Orioles are back in the Paul Konerko derby, which is encouraging. The big-swinging first baseman is the only single player in this free-agent market who could make a major impact on the Orioles' chances of competing for a wild-card berth next year. But the Orioles would probably have to overwhelm Konerko to get him to come here, so I'm not holding my breath.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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