Fred Funk built a reputation as a short hitter who kept the ball in play and usually got the most out of his ability. He showed again another dimension to his game with a record-setting performance in the U.S. Senior Open.
Funk closed with a 7-under 65 on Sunday to become the first player in a USGA championship to finish at 20-under par. He won his second senior major, setting one tournament record (score in relation to par) and matching another with his six-shot victory.
"It's something I really didn't fathom happening, but the biggest thing is just getting my name on that trophy," the 53-year-old Funk said Sunday at Crooked Stick.
Funk finished at 20-under 268, breaking the previous record to par of 17 under set by Hale Irwin in 2000 at Saucon Valley. Juli Inkster won the U.S. Women's Open at Old Waverly in 1999 at 16 under, while Tiger Woods holds the U.S. Open record by winning at Pebble Beach at 12 under.
An eight-time winner on the regular PGA Tour, including The Players Championship, Funk has shown he can go low. He set a Champions Tour record two years ago with an 11-shot victory in a 54-hole event in Hawaii.
At the Senior Open, records fell early and often at Crooked Stick, a Pete Dye design.
Greg Norman, Joey Sindelar, Dan Forsman and amateur Tim Jackson all tied for the course record Thursday with 66s. That record was bettered Saturday when Russ Cochran had a 64. Loren Roberts then tied Cochran's mark on Sunday.
The seniors posted better numbers than those from the PGA Championship that was played at the course in 1991. John Daly won that tournament with a score of 12 under.
"These guys can still play," Norman said. "The golf course is very similar to what we played in 1991, and you know, we are still hitting in the same places, hitting the same irons into the greens. So, goes to show, these guys are still very, very good."
Funk, who lost in a playoff last week to Robert in the Senior British Open, picked up his fifth Champions Tour victory. His other major came last year at the Jeld-Wen Tradition in Oregon.
Funk was 13 under the first three days to take the lead. He birdied Nos. 2, 5 and 9 on Sunday for a 33 on the front nine and was on his way to routing the field.
Sindelar (70) finished second at 14 under, Cochran (68) was 12 under, and Roberts (64) and Norman (73) followed at 11 under.
Funk knew Roberts was playing well.
"I did notice Loren Roberts taking off from way back and wondering what the heck he was doing and playing," Funk said. "It was pretty interesting watching him climb the leaderboard like that, and it was putting a little scare in me."
After Roberts finished, Funk stopped watching the scoreboard until he reached 17.
Tom Watson, 59, closed with a 72 and tied for 43rd. It was his third straight week playing a major, starting with his remarkable bid at Turnberry where he lost the British Open in a playoff.
Last year's U.S. Senior Open winner, Eduardo Romero, shot an even-par 72 on Sunday to tie for 19th at 3 under.
Jackson, who led after the first two days, shot a 4-over 76 on Sunday to tie for 11th. His 72-hole score of 282 was the lowest by an amateur in U.S. Senior Open history, shattering the record of 288 set by Greg Reynolds and George Zahringer in 2005. Jackson also shot the lowest round for an amateur in a U.S. Senior Open, a 66 on Thursday.
Jackson's score of 133 over the first two days matched the event's best 36-hole mark.
"This was a great experience and a great week," the 50-year-old said. "Even as old as I am, I learned a lot."
Performances like Jackson's inspire Funk.
"It shows that the game is kind of an ageless game," Funk said. "You can still play at a super high level as long as you're healthy and prepared."