LA QUINTA, Calif. -- What a Skins Game it was for Fred Funk,
who went from wearing a pink skirt on the third hole to walking
away with nearly all the money.
"Wow," Funk said in disbelief Sunday on the 18th green, where
he'd just won the final $550,000 and six skins, for a total of
$925,000 and 15 skins in his first try.
Funk had a two-putt birdie on the par-5 18th, then clinched the
record-setting victory when Tiger Woods missed an 8-foot birdie
The 49-year-old Funk became the oldest Skins Game winner, and
took all $700,000 available on Sunday.
"I'm still in shock that I got asked to be in this thing,"
said Funk, who was invited to his first Skins Game after winning
the Players Championship in March. "I've always watched it on TV
and was shocked to be part of it. It's something that I didn't even
dream of, actually. First of all, I didn't dream that I'd win the
Before the made-for-TV tournament, Woods told Funk he'd never
live it down if Annika Sorenstam outdrove him on even one hole. It
happened on the third hole Saturday, and Funk good-naturedly pulled
a pink skirt over his pants and finished the hole.
But Woods might not want to underestimate the short-but-accurate
"It started off with some nice birdies at first, and after that
Funky just took over," Woods said.
Coincidentally, Funk won $775,000 and 12 skins on two par-5s.
The $925,000 and 15 skins were records for a rookie.
Almost as surprising as Funk winning practically the entire
purse was Fred Couples, the King of Skins, getting shut out for the
first time in 12 appearances.
"Getting nothing is not the end of the world," said Couples,
who still holds the Skins Game career records with $3,515,000 and
77 skins. "I've gotten my share. So I'm tickled pink just to be
Woods won the other $75,000, on the third hole on Saturday.
Sorenstam was shut out for the second straight year.
"This course is long for me to start with, and you put some
wind and some firm greens, it made it really tough for me to get it
close," said Sorenstam, the LPGA star playing in her third
straight Skins Game. "It's an honor simply to come here. This is a
great experience for me."
With more than half the purse up for grabs on the final hole,
Funk played it brilliantly. As usual, his drive was in the middle
of the fairway on the 524-yard, par-5 finishing hole, although
Woods and Couples had more distance. Funk's approach shot left him
with a 30-foot eagle putt, which curled just to the left, leaving
him a tap-in for birdie.
"Obviously I'm not a power hitter at all," said Funk, who hit
a 284-yard drive and a 3-wood from 241 yards.
"I wasn't sure, into the wind, that I could get home, but I hit
a really good drive and a really good 3-wood to get it up there,"
he said. "I didn't think birdie would win it, but you just never
know in the Skins.
"Again, timing's everything," Funk said. "It was very
difficult to make putts. You saw a lot of putts go right up to the
hole and break off. Freddie and Tiger hit a bunch like that. It's
just difficult trying to read these things and you don't know where
Woods needed to make his birdie putt to halve the hole and force
a playoff. He missed just left.
Funk also won $150,000 and three skins with a 12-foot birdie
putt on the par-4 12th, the day's third hole.
The previous oldest Skins Game champion was Gary Player, who was
48 when he won it in 1983.
Funk won the most money in one year and won the biggest hole in
a regular Skins Game -- not including the 2001 event that was played
under a validation format. Greg Norman won $800,000 on one hole in
that 2001 event, and $1 million overall.
Woods and Couples both had chances to reel in Funk, who won
$225,000 and six skins on Saturday.
Woods had a sensational approach shot out of the right rough on
the par-5 16th and could have won $280,000 and four skins, but his
25-foot eagle putt stopped about 4 inches short of the cup.
"Don't do that, don't," Woods said before covering his face.
"Nice lag," Sorenstam told him.
"I've got a pretty pink skirt for you," Funk said to Woods.
On the par-3 17th, which was worth $350,000 and five skins, Funk
hit into the water and Woods and Couples both missed long birdie
putts. Sorenstam made a par putt, forcing Woods and Couples to do
the same to halve the hole and carry the money over to the 18th.
The Skins Game is sponsored by Merrill Lynch.