Fred Funk made it to the PGA Tour the hard way - through work.
"I wasn't a hotshot out of college, I wasn't a hotshot anywhere," Funk said Thursday after his 10-under-par 62 gave him a two-shot lead over Tom Kite in the Atlanta Classic."I'm fullfilling a dream to make it out here," he said. "I feel good about that."
He went broke in the early 1980s playing on the minitour and failed three times to get out of the PGA Tour qualifying school.
He made the tour in 1989, but didn't make enough money to keep his card. He simply qualified again and made enough last year to retain the card.
He wouldn't be the first player to come to mind when thinking of who might challenge golf's single-round scoring record of 59, set by Al Geiberger in the 1977 Memphis Classic.
He had his shot at that mark, reaching the 10-under figure with four holes to play.
"I did think 59," Funk said, envisioning that possibility after rolling in a 3-foot birdie putt No. 4, his 13th hole of the day.
He thought the chances were even better when he birdied the 5th from a foot. He needed three more over the final four holes, but got none.
"I didn't hit it close again," Funk said.
Funk and the rest of the field had the advantage of being able to pick up the ball in the fairway to clean away the mud because of the sopping wet conditions.
"We couldn't have played without lifting and cleaning," Kite said after his 64, which included 10 birdies and two bogeys.
"When you can clean it off and set it back on the ground, it helps a lot in the wet conditions," Ray Floyd said after shooting 68. "It was much wetter than I anticipated."
"The course was in great shape considering all the water," said Funk, who spent eight years coaching golf at Maryland after failing on the minitour.
Half of Funk's birdies came on putts of 12 feet or more, including a 20-25- footer on his first hole, a 40-footer on No. 15 and a 25-footer on No. 3.
He ended his round on the 9th green, saving par with a 15 footer.
Kite's longest birdie putt was an 18-footer on No. 15. He also sank two 15-footers and both of his bogeys resulted from pulled iron shots on No. 1 and No. 16.
"I still felt like there were a lot of birdies to be made," Kite said after opening with bogey-par. "Gosh, I got a bunch of them today."
Kite said he wasn't suprised that Funk's 10-under produced only a two-shot lead.
"I don't think anybody in this day and age expects to have more than a two-shot lead," Kite said. "It doesn't happen very often."
Mike Standly and Perry Arthur were three shots off the lead after posting 65s. Ricky Kawagishi of Japan and Marco Dawson shot 66.