Crooked Stick Golf Course was supposed to present a challenge to some of the best Champions Tour golfers.
Someone forgot to tell Fred Funk as he easily ran through the course and over his competition enroute to capturing the 2009 U.S. Senior Open in Carmel, Ind.
After coming dangerously close to winning the Senior British Open just days previously, Funk flexed his muscles and used his amazingly straight drives to distance himself from the field and pick up the winner’s purse of $470,000 for his efforts.
Still, Funk was both gracious and humble with his victory and gave credit to his competitors on the Champions Tour.
“I think all these guys deserve credit, as they prove in a sense that this is an ageless game in some ways,” said Funk flanked by his 13-year-old son who was clutching the trophy. The 53-year-old Funk indeed offered inspiration for golfers of all ages by shooting a record breaking 20 strokes under par for the tournament.
While many of his challengers also played well, Funk distanced himself by finding the fairways 83 percent of the time and with no bogeys in his final 22 holes. Not bad for an alleged short hitter.
Joey Sindelar was the tournament runner up finishing six strokes behind Funk, while Russ Cochran placed third at 12 under.
The legendary Greg Norman finished in a tie for fourth with Loren Roberts at 11 under, while 1998 Masters and British Open winner Mark O’Meara rounded out the top five at nine under.
Notes: While you would not know it, Fred Funk played with both a nagging shoulder and knee through the tournament.
The four day attendance total exceeded 120,000 and was no doubt bolstered by overall great weather.
Numerous scoring records were set during the tournament including new marks for most sub par rounds (116) and most sub par 72 hole totals (31). This adds fuel to the fire in terms of whether or not Crooked Stick is challenging enough for a professional tournament.
The senior players really put on a show of force this past weekend and it will probably be more of an onslaught in terms of under par play if the PGA Tour visits Crooked Stick as a proposed location for the BMW Classic.
Loren Roberts and Russ Cochran shared the distinction of the lowest round of the Open with a score of 64.
Peyton Manning and Governor Mitch Daniels were spotted taking in the action from the HP Suite at Crooked Stick.
Don’t they know you have to walk the course with your Gatorade and your sandwich to truly enjoy the action?
While there is significant doubt in my mind that the course is suitable for a PGA event, there can be no doubt that the operations staff and volunteers at Crooked Stick are up to the challenge. The tournament ran smoothly and getting around was a lot easier than I thought it would be courtesy of free shuttles that ran continuously from all the permit parking lots.
Kudos to all involved in putting on a great event.
Danny Bridges, who still struggles with miniature golf, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or Bridgeshd@aol.com.