Funk excited to be teeing off

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

If you want to follow in somebody's footsteps, you might as well begin the journey on hallowed ground.

And Edmonton's Andrew Funk will get that opportunity later this month in not only the most prestigious event in amateur golf, but at one of the most storied venues in a America.

Back-to-back 69s at a sectional qualifier in St. Louis earned the 20-year-old a spot at the U.S. Amateur Championship at Southern Hills.

Funk, who'd like to make a run at the PGA Tour one day, will be playing in the same tournament he watched Tiger and Phil win, the same tournament that Jack and Arnold won before he was even born, on a course that's hosted seven major championships.

"I'm pretty excited, really excited," said Funk, who won the Edmonton Amateur championship in a landslide earlier this summer.

"It's kind of a dream come true. Obviously there are bigger events in the pros, but as far as amateur goes, the U.S. Amateur is the biggest tournament there is. To get a chance to play in it and see how my game is up against the other people is going to be great."

Some players spend their entire amateur careers trying to get in, but Funk made it on his first attempt, securing a tee time at a place that's been home to three U.S. Opens and four PGA Championships.

"I felt my game is at a level now that I could qualify," he said. "It's quite a trip to get there, and you have to pay for the flight and hotel, so you want to be at the top of your game or it's a waste. But I felt I could do it."

He went to St. Louis thinking there were four spots up for grabs among the hundred or so hopefuls, but it turned out there were only two. He was fourth after the first day, one stroke behind three players tied for first with 68s.

There were no leaderboards, so Funk, playing in the second last group, could only guess what the leaders were shooting behind him.

"The last three holes on the course are the hardest and I thought if I could just par those last three, I'm in. The scorecards got signed and 138 was good enough."

So now it's off to Southern Hills in Tulsa, where he'll be surrounded by the best of the best. The tournament opens Aug. 24 with two days of stroke play, after which the field of 312 will be whittled down to 64 for match play.

"Everyone will be nervous on the first tee shot but on the other hand I don't really have anything to lose," said Funk, who's currently on a golf scholarship at Drury University in Missouri.

Ironically, after qualifying for the U.S. Amateur and winning the city championship, Funk lost the Edmonton Country Club club championship in a playoff yesterday.

"A little ridiculous," he chuckled. "But that's how golf is."


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