Funk's hopes of winning in home state fade on back nine

Senior Players

October 08, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Reporter

After making his second birdie in three holes to move to 10-under-par for the tournament, Fred Funk walked to the 13th tee at Baltimore Country Club thinking he still had a chance to win the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship.

At the time, he was five strokes behind the leader, Loren Roberts.

Then came a bad drive on the 452-yard par 4 into the left rough. It was followed later by a three-putt for double bogey. But things would only get worse for the former University of Maryland golf coach, as he would also three-putt for bogey on the par-4 14th hole.

"I just totally fell apart," said Funk, who shot a 1-over 71 and finished tied for third, seven shots behind Roberts. "I was pretty disappointed, but that's golf. I was just cruising, and then everything went kaput. I followed mistake after mistake after mistake."

While Funk lost a chance to win in his home state, his fans never wavered in their support.

One of them, though, seemed a little disappointed.

As Funk was signing autographs outside the scorer's tent, James Chaix, 8, of Hunt Valley asked Funk a question.

"Are you in second place?" James asked.

When Funk informed the child that he was in third, James said: "Darn."

"I agree," Funk said.

James offered some encouragement, with a major caveat.

"You'll win next year if you're not dead," James said.

Wiebe falters

Mark Wiebe won in his Champions Tour debut two weeks ago at the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C.

After taking a share of the first-round lead in his second event, Wiebe stayed in contention until yesterday, when a 71 left him tied for seventh at 3-under 277.

"I'm a little disappointed with my finish; I bogeyed four of the last six holes," Wiebe said on his way to the locker room. "But it wasn't because I wasn't trying. The course is hard, and I think I ran out of gas."

Thorpe gives back

Jim Thorpe, whose ties to this area go back to his days playing local courses around Baltimore during the early 1970s, spent part of last week trying to encourage black kids to play golf.

Thorpe gave free clinics at Forest Park Golf Course and Langston in Washington. The clinics were arranged by Malachi Knowles, a Morgan State graduate who founded Inner City Youth Golfers in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"When you come back to places like Baltimore and Washington, D.C., you want to let these kids know that this is how we started and this is where we are today," said Thorpe, who has won 12 times in 10 years on the Champions Tour. "We tell them, `There is hope for you.'"

Thorpe is disturbed that he remains the only black player on the Champions Tour and that Tiger Woods is the only black on the PGA Tour. Thorpe is hopeful that African-Americans can use golf as a vehicle for professional success even if they can't achieve what he has.

"Everyone is not going to play on the professional level," Thorpe said. "Malachi and I talked yesterday about introducing the kids to the administrative side of the game. There are a lot of areas that we still need to get involved with and find out that we can make a difference."

Thorpe, whose most recent victory came in last season's Charles Schwab Cup Championship, finished tied for 46th at 6-over 286.

"I didn't score as well as last year at the Constellation Championship, but it provided yet another opportunity for me to be a big hit in two communities," Thorpe said.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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