B/R Exclusive: Fred Funk Dishes on Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and the Masters

Will Leivenberg@@will_leivenbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2013

B/R Exclusive: Fred Funk Dishes on Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and the Masters

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    Fred Funk is as easy going as his silky smooth swing.

    We got a chance to chat with the eight-time PGA Tour champion about everything from Tiger Woods' resurgence in the golf world to the intriguing partnership he's entered with Stryker Orthapaedics and Fisher House to help support our military families by making the same Stryker GetAroundKnee® hat that he wears on tour available for golf fans.

    Funk's variety of experience as a fierce competitor paired with his wealth of knowledge about the game of golf fueled his thrilling insights into the current happenings in the world of golf.

Funk on Tiger Catching Jack Nicklaus' Record of 18 Major Championships

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    Q: Do you believe Tiger will catch Jack's record of 18 majors?

    A: I thought so before. Before his injuries and some of the other things he was going through, but Tiger seems to be on his way back up. I never put it past him.

    Tiger's exceeded every expectation you've ever put on him.

    He's only four away, that's a career for a lot of people. But for Tiger it seems like winning majors, and winning four or five more isn't out of the realm of possibility.

    I think he's going to win Augusta this year, or he's at least the man to beat at Augusta this year.

The Rory McIlroy Dilemma

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    Q: Rory McIlroy began 2013 miserably with consecutive missed cuts. Do you think he'll bounce back or is there some kind of bigger problem affecting his performance?

    A: No way, he's the real deal. He's such an incredible talent.

    Switching [club] companies might have had something to do with it, and he admitted that. He's working on remedying that, and he clearly found something at Doral because the last 27 holes he was 13-under par. He got himself back in it and got himself a top 10 out of it and came out of nowhere.

    He's getting confidence back. He's really young, and to be thrust into that No.1 world ranking position, well, he had incredible expectations on himself and a lot of pressure put on him so he's just got to get through that.

    His talent is unmistakable. He hits the ball miles. Good putter, great demeanor and a great kid. He's good for the game of golf.

Funk's Winning Formula for the Masters

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    Q: What kind of player thrives at the Masters?

    A: Augusta is a very unique golf course. It's a long hitters course, main reason is because the greens are so severe and the areas where they put the pin is such a small area. The little plateaus and undulations mean it's incredibly important to be close to that pin so you can be aggressive.

    But if you're not close, you're on defense all day long.

    That's when the course eats you up. If you control of your irons and your distance control, then you can be aggressive on the greens and shoot the low numbers you need to win. And now it's so much longer so that when it's playing firm and fast, scores will be high, and when it's soft, even though it plays longer, guys have control of their golf ball and scores can be really low.

    It really depends on what Mother Nature throws at them that particular week.

Annika Sorenstam and the Skirt

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    Q: Looking back, what was it like to play golf while wearing a skirt?

    A:  It ended up being one of the greatest moments in the history of the Skins Game.

    I brought it on myself. I asked Annika if she would mind me wearing a skirt if she outdrove me and she said 'absolutely not,' because she'd definitely outdrive me.

    So she put it on me early, and the whole incident was really fun and made light of everything and made everybody relax. I actually ended up winning the last 15 skins, so I got the last laugh out of that thing.

Partnering with Stryker and Fisher House

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    Q: What is your involvement with Stryker and Fisher House?

    A: The PGA Tour has a lot of interaction with our military, and I've grown to have an incredible respect for our troops who are coming home with these horrific injuries, as well as any organization that can not only help them get healed up, but help them get integrated back into society.

    Fisher House is an organization that allows this. It allows military to be with their families while they're healing up and the love and support they get from their families really helps in their healing. Stryker was a company that allowed me, when I had my knee replaced and I got the Stryker GetAroundKnee put in, to get my career back and get my life back.

    It's a great concept and a wonderful program.

    I'm going to be wearing the Stryker hat because I'm a walking testimonial to the fact that you can get your knee replaced and still play at a really high level and get your life back. You can get that hat at GetAroundKnee.com and buy the hat for $19.95, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to Fisher House.

    I can't emphasize enough how proud I am of the relationship I have with Stryker and their relationship with Fisher House.