SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda – When Fred and Taylor Funk are asked to recall their favorite golf memories of each other, both go back to May 2012, when Fred won the PGA TOUR Champions’ Insperity Invitational with son Taylor on the bag.
The event was contested at The Woodlands CC in the Houston metroplex, same site as Fred’s inaugural PGA TOUR victory in May 1992 – three-plus years before Taylor was born.
“An awesome experience,” Taylor said of caddying his dad to victory.
“That was a really cool experience there,” echoed Fred.
Now the father-son duo is about to embark on another week destined for the scrapbook, regardless of how the competition unfolds.
Fred and Taylor are paired together for the opening two rounds of this week’s Bermuda Championship, beginning at 1:15 p.m. local time Thursday alongside Mark Anderson, off the No. 1 tee at Port Royal GC.
This marks Taylor’s second career TOUR start, and No. 650 for his dad.
Both plan to embrace the moment as they navigate the seaside Port Royal layout, knowing the unique rarity of a father-son, same-group TOUR pairing – especially as Fred, 64, enters the latter stages of a career that has included eight TOUR wins and nine on PGA TOUR Champions.
“It’s almost beyond a dream come true,” said Fred. “It’s something you just wanted to happen, and it’s happening. We’ve spent a lot of time playing a lot of golf together, and I’ll just be his major-league cheerleader tomorrow. So I’m really excited about it.”
“He better not be too much of a cheerleader,” smiled Taylor, 24, in response. “I don’t want to get all psyched-out out there with pom-poms or doing the YMCA or something. But it will be fun. Just a dream come true. I grew up on the road with him and we played a lot of golf together growing up, and I give a lot of credit to him for where I’ve come.
“Just to be able to play in a PGA TOUR event together is pretty incredible. To be in the same group is going to be really fun. Special.”
Growing up, Taylor and his sister Perri were home-schooled on the road by their mom Sharon, as the Funk clan crisscrossed the country on the PGA TOUR – Fred fashioning a career that has included 204 top-25s on TOUR, and a signature victory at the 2005 PLAYERS Championship.
“Watching him throw the hat down at THE PLAYERS was pretty amazing,” recalled Taylor, who was on-hand at TPC Sawgrass to celebrate Fred’s title in the family’s hometown of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Taylor grew up on TOUR – “I always had a club in my hand” – but didn’t start playing for score until age 10 or so. His first time breaking 90, alongside Fred and longtime caddie Mark Long, came at age 11 or 12.
“He was a real little dude, and Mark about killed him,” laughed Fred of the round at Berkeley Hall in South Carolina. “Taylor was like ‘this’ big (motioning toward the ground), and Mark was about 230 pounds running toward him, and just picked him up. It was hilarious.”
Taylor hit a growth spurt in high school – “I grew, like, 9 inches in one year” – and his game continued to blossom. He played collegiately at the University of Texas, and has been playing the mini-tour/Monday qualifier circuit over the past couple of years, chasing his TOUR dreams.
“He’s a great putter,” Fred said of Taylor. “His short game around the green is really solid, and you add that to the length that he has … he can overpower any golf course; there are not any par-5s … and it’s just a matter of him putting it all together. It’s fun to watch.
“I’ve seen him play at a really high level, really good, and it’s as good as it gets.”
“Overpowering a golf course” would not be a phrase used to describe the elder Funk, who offset below-average driving distance numbers with superior accuracy and a well-rounded game that endured across a generation.
As he walked countless TOUR events throughout childhood following his dad, Taylor witnessed this firsthand.
“Obviously everyone in the world would love to hit it as straight as my dad does, but he has also overcome how short he has hit it by beating them in other ways,” Taylor said. “He’s always in position and knows his game. He knows he can hit his hybrids closer than other people can hit their 7-iron, and he never gave up. He kept fighting and put together an incredible career.
“Just to see someone that might not hit it as far as Bryson, or might not hit it as far as Tiger back when he was playing, but still be able to win eight times on the PGA TOUR … there’s a lot to say about that.”
Inspiration Taylor has channeled for nearly a quarter-century, and will plan to forever.
Source: PGA tour