Fred Funk shot a record 20-under-par 268 to win the 2009 U.S. Senior Open by six strokes over Joey Sindelar at Crooked Stick Golf Club capturing his first USGA championship title.
Funk, 53, was the only player in the field to card four rounds in the 60s, capping off a picture-perfect week of big crowds and excellent scoring conditions with a final-round 65. The runner-up at the 2008 U.S. Senior Open held onto his 54-hole lead at Crooked Stick, the longest course in U.S. Senior Open history at 7,316 yards.
“That’s something I didn’t fathom happening but it did,” said Funk, discussing his record-setting finish. “The biggest thing is getting [my] name on that trophy and all the great names that are on there and being part of that history is what I was talking about.”
Funk, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., began the final round with a one-stroke lead over Sindelar and Greg Norman but pulled away by posting a bogey-free final round. His accuracy from tee to green was unmatched, as he led the field with 47 of 56 (84 percent) fairways hit and tied for second in greens in regulations, hitting 55 of 72 (76 percent) greens.
“There was a couple of opportunities last week that I know I let go, and it hurt because you can always look back and, unless you win, you can always look back and find shots in four days that you wish you had back,” said Funk on his runner-up showing at the Senior British Open the week before. “And, I didn’t want to look back this week and say would have, could have, should have.”
With crowds of more than 30,000 following the leaders, an electric atmosphere surrounded the legendary Pete Dye course.
“I did have an enormously good time this week,” said runner-up Sindelar, of Horseheads, N.Y. “The people were fantastic. The energy was scary.”
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the week came from amateur Tim Jackson, of Germantown, Tenn. The 36-hole leader set and tied a number of U.S. Senior Open scoring records, including lowest round by an amateur (first-round 66), lowest 72-hole score by an amateur (288) and lowest score by any player in the first 36 holes (133), tying six others for the record. He set a record for most strokes under par through 36 holes, shooting 11 under par.
“This was a wonderful experience,” said the 50-year-old Jackson, who earned an exemption into the 2010 U.S. Senior Open with his finish as low amateur. “A great week, and even being as old as I am, I think I learned a lot this week.”
Propelled by a third-round 64, Russ Cochran finished in third at 12-under-par 276. Loren Roberts carded a final-round 64 to tie for fourth with Norman.