Red Alert: Funk Strengthens Hold On Lead


By Stuart Hall
July 28, 2008

Colorado Springs, Colo. — Mark McNulty shot an even-par 70 in the second round of the U.S. Senior Open on Friday morning, and despite playing the final three holes in three over, he was downright pleased with his position on the leaderboard. Ditto for Tom Kite, who shot a 71, and first-round leader Fred Funk, who worked for his 1-under 69.

As early afternoon unfurled at The Broadmoor, the East Course was becoming more demanding as

Fred Funk weathered a shaky putter in the early going before rebounding strong. (John Mummert/USGA)

windy conditions and a few diabolical hole locations left many players satisfied with par.

"The golf course is really, really difficult," said Kite, who is at 2-under 138 for the championship and was in a tie for fourth when afternoon play began. "The greens are just so treacherous, and if you get on the wrong side of one of those ridges, it is really tough to get it down in two putts.

"It's going to be fun watching on TV. I'm glad I'm finished."

While Thursday yielded six scores of 3-under 67 or better, the best round of the morning session was Ian Woosnam’s 2-under 68.

"Well, a guy's got to play really good, and I think that you have to get off to a really good start on the front nine, and that's where you can get a little momentum going early," said Funk. "If a guy does tee off on the back nine and does somehow manage to get one- or two-under at the turn, I think he can get it low.

"But it's tough. It's getting tougher out there. It's getting a little more toasty. And mainly the pin positions, I thought they were very fair yesterday, and today I think they are fair, other than about two or three of them. But they are a little dicey."

Funk, 52, began his round on the 10th and promptly bogeyed the 11th and 12th holes, and a bogey on the par-4 17th put him at three over through eight holes.

"Really wasn't that frustrated because I felt like I was still playing pretty good and thought I could make some birdies," said Funk, who birdied the ninth for an outward 36. "I was hoping to get back to even par for the day, and I ended up getting to one under for the day. And so I was really pleased overall."

At the time his 6-under 134 gave him a two-stroke leader over John Cook, who shot 66 on Thursday and faced an afternoon tee time.

McNulty, 54, of Zimbabwe, began his day at two-under and through a pendulum swinging day, finished right where he started, his card featuring five birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey. He closed with a bogey at the par-3 16th and a double bogey at the par-4 18th — despite being short of the green in two shots — but was in a proper frame of mind,

"At the beginning of the week if somebody said to me, you'll shoot four 69s, I would have been delighted," said McNulty. "So I'm on course for that at the moment, even though the last hole blues."

The hot topic, though, were the greens or, more specifically, some of the hole locations. McNulty called them the "the toughest greens I’ve seen in championship golf."

The location at the 178-yard, par-3 eighth, for example, was tucked 5 yards from the left edge and 8 yards deep, but a nearby ridge created a 3-foot elevation drop to the hole and a slippery downhill comebacker from behind the hole. Halfway through the second round, it ranked as the eighth most difficult hole, but was the only green in which the putts average was more than two per player.

"Golly. What are they thinking about on No. 8?" asked Kite rhetorically. "You have to hit a perfect shot, and playing with Jay Haas today, he hit an absolutely perfect shot in there and landed and caught the ridge and then came back and ended up 5 feet above the hole. Literally, he just touched the putt. And if he misses the hole — he made the putt — but if he misses the hole, his putt's 5, 6 feet below the hole."

Kite, thankfully, was finished. There was every indication he would move up the leaderboard as the afternoon wore on. And that brought a smile to his face.

Stuart Hall is a freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on www.ussenioropen.com.

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